Member Musings: What to do Between Sessions

Catherine Auman, LMFT

Supervisors SIG Chair, LA-CAMFT

People who are new to psychotherapy often wonder what they should be doing in the time between sessions. Anxious to grow and evolve, they’re unsure how to aid the process, and their appointment next week seems far off in the future.

The psychotherapy sessions themselves are concentrated, intense 50-minute “hours” one or more times a week. They can be a time when you dive into your depths and share things you’ve never shared before. You might find your sessions head scratching, heart opening, spirit stirring, or all three. They are meant to be a catalyst for your life to improve in a way that is meaningful to you, a seed, so to speak, that sprouts during the week.

So what can you do between sessions to continue, deepen, forward your growth?

  • Take some time to think over what we discussed. See what occurs to you, mull it over, meditate on it. Consider, feel, and intuit what may be revealing itself to you.
  • Your session may have pointed out ways that you act mechanically in unhelpful patterns learned in childhood. See if you can catch yourself acting unconsciously in any of the ways we discussed. Be gentle with yourself when you do. The awareness of acting in patterned ways not of your creation or consent is revolutionary even if you never do anything to change them.
  • Or, see yourself acting out of your patterns and change them. Observe how you would previously act in a way not necessarily in your best interest, and then act differently in a way that would. Practice this more than once.
  • Read books or consult the Internet about your issues. There is a lot of good information out there and the left brain can be of great assistance. It’s usually not enough in itself, but it helps if you are a reading type.
  • Write in a journal. Document your growth process, copy down poignant quotes and images that come to you, memories, synchronicities, connections, hunches and humor. If you’re not a writer, use another medium: draw, paint, make music, dance.
  • Talk to your family or people you grew up with to do some “archeological research.” Call them up or email, and ask questions. It’s often useful to find out facts or impressions that were the same or different than yours.
  • Do nothing. Go about your life. Open to the awareness that growth is happening. Being quiet and doing nothing, the seed of the session is germinating within you, all by itself.

© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth