As for clients I’ve done therapy with, there’s always a stage where clients often feel down on themselves about not making the progress they’ve hoped for.
Where they want to be versus they are, seemed to be so far and wide. They didn’t feel any closer to where they wanted to be after having a few sessions. People often get so frustrated with the process that their growth and small successes are not acknowledged.
Therapy is not a quick fix. Many people have some emotional unpacking to do that they have been carrying since childhood. There is no time frame on self-improvement and healing. It may involve months or years of personal development and therapy with a helping professional. As we know it, personal development overall is a lifetime journey.
Often times therapist see the progress before their clients do. That is why it’s so important for me to tell my clients where I see progress during each session. The client’s thoughts maybe clouded by anxiety, overthinking, over analyzing, and focusing on past and present problems.
It may also be the case that a person might be experiencing more emotional exhaustion from initial therapy sessions; again due to emotional unpacking. As a therapist, I try to remind them of this process and of their little successes. If you would like to know more, here are some early on signs a person is improving in therapy.
You are noticing more of your behaviors, your thinking pattern, what you think about, how you feel, and how to react to your thoughts. It’s like you are seeing yourself for the first time from another point of view. For example, you may notice you are feeling anxious right before work or more depressed when browsing through social media, and in turn you get negative thoughts about yourself and avoid socializing with people.
Why is increased awareness so important? Once you begin to see your own patterns of how your thoughts, feelings, and behavior are connected, you can then work towards changing them.
Learning and Implementing Coping Skills
Sometimes people expect to hit the ground running after learning a new coping skills. However, learning a new coping skills and implementing then daily is the same as learning a new habit. It takes consistency and effort to continue implementing until you see change.
It’s like practicing for a sport. You can not expect to advance without practice. You may even feel the practice is not worth it in the beginning. It may feel like another overwhelming chore for you to complete. Nevertheless, when you start to see results, it all feels worth it. I see progress in clients when they take what they have learned in therapy and try to implement it in their daily life, even if it’s not yielding results yet.
Image my surprise when I start to see client’s setting boundaries with work, family, friends, partners, their children, and in other areas of their life. This is actually one of the improvements I normally see first. Clients begin to see where they need to set limits and begin to see boundaries right away.
For example, a client may notice spending too much time at work is causing their feelings of overwhelm and decide they will no longer do overtime hours. As a therapist, I affirmed and reinforce these decisions and always point out the client how setting boundaries helps increase their mental health.
When client’s start to focus more on self-care, I know they are making progress. It has been scientifically proven that engaging in a self-care routine decreases or removes anxiety and depression, reduces tension, improves attention, minimizes frustration and anger, enhances satisfaction, improves energy, and more.
For example, one person may decide to drink a cup of tea in the mornings to increase their alertness. Someone else may decide to focus on getting 8 hours of sleep at night to increase their productivity through the day and as a tool for stress management. It could also be as simple as deciding to listen to positive podcast during the day to increase their mood. Engaging in self-care is important to improving and maintaining mental health.
When client’s continue therapy without feeling like they are making progress, that lets a therapist know they are all in. They know they need the help and are committed to sticking to it until they see the results. For instance, it’s like losing weight; you may not see any weight loss in the first couple of week, but if you stick to it 6 months to a year, the progress will be undeniable. Also, others may notice the changes in your health before you do. Alike, going to therapy will also need commitment and patience and others may notice your progress before you do.
Increased awareness of your current issues, implementing coping skills, setting boundaries, engaging in more self-care, and continuing therapy are some of the easiest ways to spot progress in therapy early on. Celebrate the small steps and achievements in your journey to better mental health. Every step is important in improving your mental health.
Comment below! I would love to get some comments on how you all have notice your improvements early on while attending therapy or it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how this article was helpful to you. Wishing you self-care! Comment below!