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What to Do Between Therapy Sessions

March 15, 2022
Woman smiling walking on a street in sunglasses

Therapy is a great way to talk through your concerns, make discoveries, learn new skills, and start feeling better. The time spent with your therapist can having a lasting impact on your life, but that’s only one part of the equation. Research on therapy shows us that you get more out of your sessions when you add homework assignments. If you see your therapist for one hour, that leaves you with 23 hours the rest of the day and 167 hours the rest of the week with yourself. Those hours are where you’ll find the real opportunities for change.  

Personal growth happens with consistent practice. So, we asked the counselors at CAPS the share their favorite things to practice between sessions. Here’s what they said:

To build healthy habits and improve overall wellness: 

To start and end the day well:  

  • Choose a mantra or affirmation that sets the tone for the day like today’s a great day to have a fresh start or I like knowing that I’ll have lots of great ideas today

  • Name 3 things you’re looking forward to each morning. 

  • Name 3 things you liked about the day each evening. 

  • Stretch and move your body.   

  • Practice deep breathing for one minute.

To gain self-awareness: 

  • Try meditation. Spend 5-10 minutes focusing on your breath and noticing your thoughts and feelings. Keep a journal handy to jot down anything that you’d like to explore further. 

  • Start a mood tracker to help you identify patterns in your moods. You can download a mood tracking app, write a daily mood rating in your calendar, or make it personal by adding colors and pictures

  • Learn about your unique strengths with the Values in Action survey of character strengths

  • Start a journal to explore your thoughts, feelings, and personal goals. 

To change negative thinking: 

  • Learn the names of common negative thinking patterns (also known as cognitive distortions or automatic thoughts. Identify 1-3 that sound familiar to you and keep a log of when you have those thoughts. See if you can identify a more helpful thought for that situation. With practice, you’ll get faster at noticing the negative thought and coming up with a more helpful thought. 

  • Search for a topic you are working on (overwhelmed, anxious, depressed). 

  • Try a self-help app like WellTrack, Woebot, or Youper

To relax, calm anxiety, or get better sleep: