Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hays, 1999) has been shown over the years to be incredibly effective at helping people recognize and change their behaviors. But, as much potential as therapy has for every individual, some people seem to have success with therapy while others don’t.
Some of this stems from what the individuals’ expectations were going into therapy, some from how much effort they gave, and some from whether or not there was a good personality fit between patient and therapist.
If you’re thinking of exploring therapy and want to ensure your journey is successful, here are some things to keep in mind:
An Evidenced-Based Approach
The American Psychological Association defines an evidence-based practitioner as someone who integrates their (1) clinical expertise with (2) available/relevant psychological science and (3a) the client’s values and (3b) cultural context to guide the intervention. This means your therapist should be using proven techniques in a way that jive with your values, preferences, and needs. It’s not about them and what they bring to the table, it’s about what they have to offer and how they can offer it so you might be positively impacted.
A Solid Partnership
It’s important to shop around to find the right therapist for you. Ideally, you want someone who you feel comfortable opening up to and someone you trust to listen and offer guidance. You also want to know your therapist is competent and has your best interests at heart. And finally, you’ll want to have open communication so you can always be sure you are on the same page as far as your “story” and how well the interventions are working.
An Appreciation for the Process of Change
We live in an instant gratification society. We want what we want and we want it NOW. In many instances, we can get what we want quickly. But this isn’t true for real change.
For therapy to be successful, you MUST be realistic about the process. It is not linear, and it is not quick. This is particularly true if you are dealing with complex, long-term problems. This doesn’t mean you can expect to be in therapy for the rest of your life or even many, many years. It simply means you must appreciate the reality of what you can expect and how quickly.