Supplements to Therapy


In addition to participating in therapy, there are many other things you could do to boost your mental and emotional wellness.  Not all these ideas are right for everybody, so pick those ideas that would help you most, and that are most relevant for you.  Can you think of more ideas?

1. Educating Yourself

There’s only so much that can be discussed in one therapy hour per week.  You might want to find more information, ideas, or insights.  Learning about the topic you’re struggling with will help you to stay focused on your therapy work between sessions, and provide helpful reminders about what’s effective and recommended versus ineffective and harmful.  To get information you could:

  • Read books and magazines
  • Find websites, online articles, blogs, discussion boards, forums or chat rooms (being careful about your sources)
  • Join FaceBook groups or become a fan of mental wellness pages on social networking sites like FaceBook
  • Follow mental health information sources on Twitter
  • Watch TV shows, documentaries and videos
  • Join list-serves that will automatically e-mail you newsletters or posts
  • Subscribe to websites using an RSS feed
  • Talk to others who have experienced similar difficulties

2. Medication

Although therapy has been shown to help in the vast majority of cases, some people want (or need) additional relief.  They may be too emotionally overwhelmed to fully engage in therapy.  If therapy feels too intense, or if therapy doesn’t seem to be helping enough, then you might consider also taking medication.  The combination of medication and counseling has a better chance of helping than just counseling or just medication alone.  Medication is probably the most common supplement to therapy (or you could also say that therapy can be a supplement to medication).  Let your therapist or your primary doctor know if you’d like to find out more about psychotropic medications, or if you’d like a referral to a psychiatrist.

3. Physical Self-Care

Use your time in therapy as a time to emphasize self-care in general.  By maximizing your physical wellness, you also enhance your mental wellness.  You could:

  • Exercise (This is a biggie!  Many great benefits.)
  • Improve your nutrition and/or take supplements
  • Rest by pacing yourself, taking breaks and getting adequate and regular sleep
  • Avoid substance abuse
  • See your primary doctor to rule out or address possible medical causes for your symptoms
  • See your primary doctor to address any physical ailments or pain that may be adding to your stress
  • Take medication as prescribed (don’t skip doses or take more than prescribed)

4. Supportive Relationships

Stay in touch with your natural support system during therapy.  Try to maintain at least three points of social support.  Talk to your support system about your challenges and your efforts to cope.  You may want to tell them that you are in therapy and how it is helping you.  Also nurture and deepen your relationships by helping others, by having fun together, and by making an effort to understand others.  People you may want to consider talking to include family, friends, a pastor or teacher, a support group, or online support.

5. Spiritual Community or Practice

Many people get meaningful inspiration and support through their spiritual community, or through personal spiritual practice.  You could:

  • Pray
  • Read religious or inspirational books or articles
  • Attend or participate in worship or other religious activities
  • Get to know friends from your spiritual community
  • Talk to a pastor or other religious leader
  • Listen to or play/sing spiritual music
  • Watch inspirational TV or listen to talk radio, podcasts, or audiobooks
  • Visit religious or spiritual places (or websites)

6. Journaling or Logging

Many people find it helpful to journal or to keep a log about their feelings, any behaviors they are trying to change, accomplishments, or about events in their lives.  It’s a great way to become more mindful, to check in with yourself, to vent, to challenge thinking errors, and to clarify your thoughts.

7. Creating Positive Experiences

Positive activities will enrich your life and counter-balance some of the pain or negative emotions life inevitably includes.  Here are some examples.

  • Engage in hobbies and learn about things that interest you
  • Work toward meaningful goals and life dreams
  • Develop enjoyable routines (like a cup of tea after work)
  • Seek out the beautiful (like music, a museum or a sunset)
  • Do recreational activities that are fun to you
  • Spend time in nature
  • Do something creative (photography, writing, music, etc.)
  • Volunteer (with animals, kids, the sick, the poor, etc.)
  • Spend time with people who care about you, and whom you care about

8. Light Therapy

For some types of depression, it may be helpful to try light therapy along with counseling.  Specific exposures to certain types of light can trigger changes in your body that could help you to feel better.  Ask your therapist or psychiatrist if you’d like to learn more about this.

9. Positive Thinking

One of the things you and your therapist may work on is challenging automatic negative thoughts and increasing positive thoughts.  You can also practice this on your own by regularly counting your blessings, noticing what is going well, acknowledging your strengths, using reminders to cue yourself to think positive, or repeating affirmations to yourself.  You could also find affirmations online, in books and in music.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC. If you are receiving my posts by e-mail, and have trouble viewing any videos, please click on the title of the post in order to view it on my website.

Categories : About Counseling

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