10 tips for setting realistic expectations in therapy

1.     Expect a safe, nurturing, and neutral space in which to explore your thoughts and feelings.


2.     Be prepared for highs and lows, ups and downs, peaks, and troughs. Therapy is rarely a straight line, and things might become worse before they get better.


3.     Expect your therapist to provide you with techniques and strategies for dealing with your beliefs, feelings, emotions, experiences, and relationships. Expect your therapist to be there to support and guide you rather than to save you.


4.     Expect that therapy/counselling will take time, it is not a quick fix. Therapy/counselling for mental and emotional wellness is a continuous process, not a single event. Getting mentally and emotionally healthy, like getting physically fit, takes time, patience, and commitment. We don't go to the gym once or twice and expect our bodies to change, and the same is true for therapy.


5.     Think about what you're there to heal. Did you go through a traumatic experience? Are you finding it difficult to maintain good relationships? Have you been diagnosed with anxiety or depression? Even if you are in counselling to improve your general well-being, it might be beneficial to educate yourself about the process.


6.     Set the objective of improving your overall health and well-being rather than "getting rid" of what you're carrying or changing what's "wrong" with you.


7.     Set goals for yourself with the help of your therapist. She or he is a great resource.


8.     Maintain your openness and curiosity. When you start therapy, you never know what may come up, and you may end up down avenues you had no idea existed. Trust that whatever comes up is the right thing to investigate.


9.     What you put into therapy, like everything else, is what you get back. Showing up each week, being willing to look and feel deeply inside yourself, and doing the work to reform your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours can considerably improve the outcomes of therapy. Going once or twice and expecting significant improvements, on the other hand, is likely to result in frustration and disappointment.


10. Recognise your accomplishments, both large and small. Maintain your emphasis on the journey rather than the destination.