1. Find the right fit. The number one predictor of success in therapy is your therapeutic relationship...that means your relationship with your therapist - what that boils down to is your feeling of being heard, understood and connected to your therapist. So, if you are doing therapy and you just don't feel like your therapist gets it, or gets you, FIND A DIFFERENT therapist. Seriously, I'd much rather have a person end therapy with me to go to another therapist than give up on therapy all together.
2. Show up. You might think this is a given, but it can be hard for many reasons for people to follow through with therapy. But here is the obvious truth, people can't get help from a therapist unless they see a therapist. If you have begun the path towards healing, hold on and go with it. The best thing you can do to increase your odds of therapy actually working is to show up for it. Come to your appointments, and have them frequently until things are easier, then you and your therapist can discuss tapering down or ending therapy.
3. Be honest. Lying to your therapist only hurts yourself, your relationships and your potential for healing. Your therapist doesn't care about you "presenting well" and knows that real life can be difficult; heck it's why you are here. Be honest about what is happening, the good, bad and ugly. There isn't much you can tell me that I haven't heard before, or heard something a lot worse. Go ahead and try to surprise me.
4. Be authentic with your emotions. If you start to cry or get angry, you don't need to hold back, or pretend the emotion isn't there. Emotion is an awesome communicator. I want to know what those tears would say if they could talk, so give them some space and a voice to be present, and be heard.
5. Accept the process. There are going to be good times and bad times with therapy. In fact, I often tell my clients that they should expect that things will likely get worse before they get better. But that is okay. I know it doesn't feel okay, but not judging yourself on how you are experiencing therapy or how fast you are improving is important to your success. Therapy is a process of wound care, and many of these wounds have been going on for years. The process of healing can be painful, but true healing needs to happen at a deeper level, so that means pulling off the band-aids or the scabs to get at the root of the pain and working out of that woundedness.
6. Write things down. There have been times were a client has left my office totally pumped about what we talked about, and the next week they return deflated, and say "I forgot that thing you said that helped me". Sometimes I'll even write things down for my clients, but it is a great tool for you to jot down what hits home. Especially since in the future you won't need me and there will be things that happen in your life that help as long as you remember them. If you get into the habit of jotting things down now, just think of the resource bank you will be creating for yourself!
There you have it, the steps to improve your odds of therapy working. Plus one more thing to keep in mind... There is Hope for you; it can get better.