These days, it’s not unusual for many of us to check in for our therapy appointments from our cars, chatter away while periodically checking our work cell, and rush from the session into the daycare carline.
We roll through the rest of our hectic day, perhaps finally taking a moment as we’re falling (crashing) asleep to try to recall what we discussed in therapy. We can barely remember in the context of our mental load, and we hope to ourselves that whatever it was somehow changed us for the better.
The reality is, however, that most therapy requires not just a sprinkling of fairy dust in the 50 minutes we’re connected, but rather a consciousness that extends far beyond the session. That generally requires an active process, one in which we spend some intentional time internalizing the work we are doing.
To make the very most of the resources you are investing in the therapeutic process, consider what to do – and to avoid – right after your session:
The After Therapy Dos
Take a walk to metabolize all that emotional processing. Moving your body after (or even during) therapy can be a powerful tool for completing the stress cycle and discharging the energy that builds up in talking about hard things. Processing these experiences through the body gives us a chance to take on the next challenges we face.
Sit without distraction with yourself for a few moments. Wrapping up therapy can create an urge to jump up and zone out. We’ve just spent a good amount of time sitting in hard feelings and self-reflecting, a sometimes exhausting and uncomfortable experience. Notice your urge to run away from this, and instead try to practice being with yourself quietly.
Journal the most significant realizations or intentions. Knowing myself means that knowing that if I don’t write it down, it’s like it never happened. This certainly goes for insights gained during therapy, which I try to take at least five minutes to do upon its conclusion. I try to also take a moment to read them over a couple of times during the week and right before my next session.
Give someone you love a hug (it could be you!). The power of human touch is profound, and spending a few seconds after a session connecting with someone with whom you have a loving connection can release safety-building hormones. Beautifully, wrapping yourself in a loving embrace or sitting with your hands placed gently over your heart can also help calm and center your nervous system.
Thank yourself for investing yourself in the process. Fully engaging in therapy is hard work and not a passive process. It’s an acknowledgement of our own worthiness. Take a few moments after therapy to offer genuine appreciation to yourself.
Now that you know what to do, also keep in mind the post-therapy traps you should avoid.
The After Therapy Don’ts
- Write a text to your partner telling them how your therapist agrees they were wrong in your last fight.
- Dive immediately back into working or parenting.
- Beat yourself up for doing it “wrong” and forgetting to talk about every single thing.
- Do your therapy homework right away. (In fairness, it might depend on the homework. But I generally find that’s helpful to allow some space in between.)
- Let a tough session convince you to give up on therapy. Just like every relationship, there will be ups and downs and benefiting means riding the waves.
What’s part of your post-therapy routine?