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How to get the most from your therapy

The therapy you have been referred for is known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This approach has been proven to be fast-acting and effective in treating a wide range of problems such as those you have been referred for. You will have been offered a set number of psychological therapy treatment sessions typically required to deal with problems such as yours. This handout will help you to obtain the most benefit from your sessions.

A is for ACTION

  • For your therapy to be effective you will need to be an active participant, working together with your therapist.
  • You will be expected to work on your difficulties outside of the sessions, for example, by doing ‘homework’ tasks, such as keeping diary records of your symptoms and practicing relaxation techniques.
  • You will be encouraged to gradually confront your problems by doing activities you may be currently avoiding, guided and supported by your therapist.
  • The goal of therapy is to teach you ways of managing your problems. At the end of your treatment you may find that you still experience some mild feelings of anxiety. Provided you continue to apply what you have been taught in therapy, further recovery should take place.


In order for you and your therapist to work effectively together, there are certain ground rules that you both need to stick to.

What you can expect from your therapist:

  • To be seen promptly and that sessions will not be interrupted, such as by telephone calls.
  • Typically, sessions last for between 45 and 60 minutes. Occasionally, sessions will be shorter or longer, which your therapist will discuss with you.
  • The frequency of sessions will vary, depending on your needs. Generally, sessions are weekly or fortnightly appointments at first. At a later point, they may be more spaced out to give you time to practice the specific techniques or homework exercises you have been set.
  • The sessions will be confidential. You will be asked to sign a consent form authorising your therapist to provide brief feedback to whoever referred you. Very occasionally, your GP may need to be involved if, for example, you meet a crisis point, which your therapist is concerned about. They will talk you through this, but may wish to discuss some matters with your GP to allow you to have access to the most appropriate support, and will required your signed authority to do so.
  • Whilst it is important that you feel comfortable with your therapist, they are not there as a ‘friend’. As a professional person, they will help you focus on your problems and their full attention will be on helping you to resolve your difficulties. Don’t expect them to ‘chat’ about their own lives!

What will be expected from you:

  • Ensure that you attend sessions on time. Write down the appointment details in a safe place to remind you. Arriving late or having to leave early reduces the time your therapist has to help you.
  • Ensure that you attend all of your sessions, or as many as possible. If you miss a session because you forgot or cancel late (i.e. with less than 24 hours before your session time), you are likely to lose the session, which could undermine your progress. Repeatedly rescheduling appointments can also disrupt the progress of therapy.

    Ensure that you will not be interrupted. Switch off your mobile phone, and if you have children, make sure that someone looks after them. Neither you nor your therapist will be able to work properly if children attend the session. It is also generally not a good idea to bring friends and family into your sessions, unless your therapist specifically asks you to.


  • To obtain a positive outcome, it is important that communication between you and your therapist is open and effective.
  • Your therapist will be polite, sympathetic and will give you time to express your views and feelings.
  • Have some clear goals as to what you would like to achieve from therapy and discuss these with your therapist. The therapy you have been referred for is not to simply help you feel better about yourself but to tackle specific problems that you are experiencing.
  • Your therapist will clearly explain what the therapy is about, how it will help you and why, and what will be expected of you. You will be taught specific techniques that will help you achieve your goals, which you will be required to practice.
  • If you do not understand something or have any concerns, let your therapist know immediately. If you feel unhappy with some aspect of your treatment, the sooner you discuss this, the quicker the problem can be dealt with.
  • Towards the end of your treatment, your therapist will discuss the ways in which you can prevent relapse occurring when you have finished therapy. In some instances, you will be given a programme to continue working on after treatment has ended. Ensure that you are clear about these issues before the end of your last session.
  • When your treatment has ended, you will be sent a confidential client satisfaction questionnaire. It is very important that you fill this in and return it to The Psychology Service because the information helps us to monitor, maintain and improve on the quality of the service we provide.

Good luck with your treatment – remember, making the most of your sessions is as simple as Action, Boundaries, and Communication.

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