Picture this: you wake up in the morning and think, “Hey, I’m in a good mood today! I don’t need my therapy appointment!” Then you realize that you don’t want to cancel on your therapist at the last minute, or remember their cancellation policy. Then you come into the office (or login to your session) sit there awkwardly running through the last week in your mind and feel as though you have nothing to talk about. Often, this will happen to clients and it’s an odd sensation for them. When someone is used to feeling depressed, overwhelmed or anxious all the time, to be in a good mood can be a strange or unsettling phenomenon.
There may be a lot of reasons that someone doesn't want to go to their therapy sessions, but if you're finding yourself not wanting to go because you're in a good mood and don't want to possibly ruin it by talking about challenging things, here are some suggestions:
Consider what changed that made things go well: Did you do anything differently during the week? Is it simply external factors that lead to things going well? Did you make any significant changes in your behaviors, internal thought process or other shifts?
Determine ways to replicate it: When things start going well, we want to determine how to make it happen again and keep happening! Explore ways to keep implementing these new changes and make plans with your therapist to continue to do them.
Process how you feel about things going well: Is it uncomfortable? Are you waiting for “the other shoe to drop”? Explore your internal process. Do you have an urge to self-sabotage? Are you able to sit with and absorb the positive feelings?
Is it avoidance? Check in with yourself to ensure that you aren’t simply avoiding talking about something difficult because you don’t feel like “dealing with it.” There is a difference between not feeling safe and secure enough to discuss hard topics and simply hoping our problems will disappear if we ignore them. Unfortunately, avoiding things doesn't make them go away. If you don’t feel safe with your therapist, that’s something to attempt to process with them.
Do you just have trouble remembering your week? I encourage clients to keep a standing note log in their phone to write down when they think of a subject that they want to discuss in therapy. Then they access their notes to jog their memory during the session.
Is it time to reconsider new goals? Can you use the time to reflect on progress that has been made and what are next steps moving forward? Make sure to take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes. Sit with those good feelings and enjoy them! Perhaps once you are secure in those changes, you can think about what might be next for you.
Can you use this time to practice and learn new skills? When we are stressed and overwhelmed, it can be difficult to learn, practice and implement new coping skills, mindfulness, or breathing techniques. One of the best times to practice skills is when we are in a calm state. If we are consistently implementing these skills on a regular basis (even when we are feeling good), then when we NEED them, we can easily access them with little thought.
Are you ready to graduate from therapy? If you think you are ready to graduate from therapy, attend your session and talk about how you're feeling with your therapist! If you're continually feeling good and like there's nothing to talk about because of this, it might mean it's time to try decreasing the frequency of sessions and see how that goes. Or brainstorm a plan with your therapist for graduating from therapy.
Personally, I am thrilled when my client wants to share that they are feeling positive and don’t have a lot to discuss. Therapists have a strange role because they are trying to work themselves out of a job! I encourage you to not simply skip the session, but to use the time to process and ideally work to continue the upward trend.