Oh you silly, silly person you! Of course not! Am I magic? Do you expect to ride out of my office on a unicorn with a trail of rainbow glitter and happiness flowing behind you?! Though that would be amazing, I can't promise that. I am certain that the way you handle stressors, the way you think about events that happen in your life, your personality, the way you interact with others, etc did not develop over just a few weeks time so please don't expect me to "fix" you in just a few weeks time. Therapy can be hard work. Several sessions in the beginning will focus solely on gathering your history and identifying patterns in your life. After that, we can begin to work on identifying ways to help you. When you take a car in for repair you typically know something is broken or wrong, but not quite sure WHAT it is yet. Diagnostics are run to determine the problem and then repairs can start. Those first few sessions can be considered diagnostics. When we pinpoint the problem it is easier to zero in on the solution. I have had people report they don't feel any different after a few sessions and therapy isn't helping. Well.... no kidding! Can we give it some time? Please!
In addition to managing expectations for progress, I ask that people do their homework. Yes, I assign homework and good therapists should do that. If the skills we talk about and learn in session don't translate outside of the office it's just a waste of time. If we practice reframing negative thoughts in session-I expect you to do it outside of session. Many people with depression and anxiety get stuck in a rut in their thinking styles-going over and over the same negative self talk loop in their minds. In order to create a new pathway of thinking in your brain to improve your mood you have to begin to lay the foundation for a new road. Each time you reframe or challenge a negative thought you are laying down bricks for your new road. You can build a nice new strong path with 100 bricks (or 100 times challenging negative thoughts outside of session) compared to maybe 6 bricks (or 6 thoughts identified and challenged during a 1 hour session of therapy). If you need a little guidance, Google is a wonderful thing. If you have therapy homework about journaling about your feelings and you get stuck you can Google journal prompts to get the juices flowing. If you have therapy about reframing negative thoughts and need guidance, there are a variety of free worksheets on the internet. If we make an anger management plan and you lose yours and need to create another one there are plenty of templates online. Remember that the reason for doing this homework is to ensure that you are grasping the skills from sessions, using the skills frequently, and that use of skills is actually impacting your life in a good way. Are you actually feeling better after reframing negative thoughts? We wont know if you aren't trying! Anyone interested in doing a little homework check out these sites online with free worksheets for anger management, anxiety, depression, etc. They are great resources and I actually encourage clients to use some of the worksheets in my practice. http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/SelfHelpCourse.pdf and http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/freedownloads2.htm