How to Make the Most of the Other 167 Hours
One hundred and sixty seven. That’s the number of hours the typical client spends outside of therapy each week, and it is ultimately the time in which real change takes hold.
Some people may not initially view the other 167 hours as part of the therapeutic process. They may begin by using therapy as a release valve on their stressful lives, enabling them to ‘let off steam’ for an hour a week and then resume living as before. There is certainly some value in that, but if therapy is meant to improve your life then it requires some energy between sessions as well.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people may exert too much effort to demonstrate progress between sessions in the hope of speeding up the therapeutic process. Changing lifelong patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior is far from easy and often takes time, perhaps more time than we would like. Impatience with the therapeutic process may actually be part of an unhelpful pattern of being overly harsh and demanding of oneself. If so, then it might be helpful to take one’s foot off the gas and learn to appreciate gradual change.
A balanced approach that involves spending a little time processing the last session and thinking about the next one often works best. In particular, asking yourself two questions each week will help maximize the therapeutic hour: Did you find anything in the previous session particularly meaningful or perhaps confusing that you’d like to revisit? Did you experience something particularly emotional or challenging during the week that you’d like to discuss during the next session?
Lastly, and most importantly, the time between sessions provides the opportunity to implement changes discussed during therapy. The goal is that you will, with practice, learn to become aware of old patterns until you notice them occurring in the moment and make an effort to change them in real time.
Investing in one hour a week of therapy is an excellent way to start moving your life in a better direction, but achieving lasting change means carrying the lessons of that hour with you into the other 167 hours of your week.