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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Acosta M.A., AMFT

How To Get The Most Out of Therapy

Some clients come to the conclusion prematurely (in some cases as little as one or two sessions) and decide they aren’t getting what they want out of therapy. For the clinician we see the warning signs, canceled appointments, no shows, a lack of motivation and/or desire to participate in their treatment plan and in some cases the client disappears and doesn’t respond to communication.

Wait so you mean my problems don’t get fixed by simply coming to a therapist? Unfortunately this is a common misconception; just coming to a session to see and talk to a therapist about your problems doesn’t lead to the client miraculously getting better. For therapy to truly work the client has to be as committed as the clinician is in the therapist client relationship.

What is a therapist client relationship? I came to get help for my problems not get in a relationship with someone.

This is an excellent question, so here it is: the therapist client relationship is the basic foundation to begin your journey in addressing your therapeutic goals.

So what does that mean? What does that look like? The therapist client relationship is built on trust, rapport, communication, honesty, collaboration, and a willingness to make one self vulnerable. Without these critical components present in the therapist client relationship the process to address one’s own issues are prolonged and extend beyond the desired timetable the client may have set for themselves in their mind.

So that’s up to the therapist right? I mean after all I’m paying for the sessions and I’m going to them so why should I have to do anything other than show up? This is another common misconception that client’s often run into, and to be quite honest who could blame them? Here’s what I mean, when someone is referred to therapy by a coworker, a relative, a peer, a friend, or otherwise they typically are told something along the lines of: “You need therapy” or “You need to go see or talk someone in therapy for that”. Based on that small amount of information it’s no wonder why and how so many people are confused with and have the perception that being physically in therapy is all that’s required to get better. I often tell my client’s that if they hired a trainer at the gym they will teach, instruct, and be supportive but they cannot lose the weight for you. The same concept applies in therapy for an individual to get what they want out of therapy they are going to have to do some work on their end to overcome their issues.

If I’m doing the work then why do I need a therapist? It is absolutely vital to work with a therapist who is registered and in good standing with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Look for therapists who specialize in what you are seeking treatment for, this step will ensure you are partnering with a competent therapist that has background and/or exposure in the area you want to target.

So what can I do? The best approach to get the most out of therapy will be based on the client’s level of engagement, motivation, sincerity, authenticity, and their ability to incorporate what they learn in therapy in their daily life.

Daniel Acosta M.A., AMFT is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in Mission Viejo, California. He works in private practice with men, women and adolescents and provides individual, couples, pre-marital, family and marital therapy for clients in Orange County. If you would like to schedule a session he can be reached at 949-943-7820 or via email at:

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