The Benefits of Therapy Homework

By Tara St. Charles, MAADC II, Graduate Intern, Doors of Hope  

Homework. Ah yes! It can certainly be a dreaded word for some people yet for others that are eager to progress towards their goals, it can have many positive connotations. No matter your perspective, there is evidence that therapy homework WORKS! So, let’s do a quick dive into why your therapist may assign you homework between therapy sessions and see if your ‘stinking thinking’ changes into “Let’s Do This!”

 Collaboratively developed by you and your therapist (that’s right, YOU get to choose your homework), homework assignments allow you to work towards your counseling goals outside of therapy sessions and are a fundamental part of numerous counseling approaches. They assist you in accomplishing behavioral, social, emotional, cognitive, or attitudinal changes between sessions. What’s that you say? You want to change ALL of the above? Well, that’s motivation to say the least! However, hold on. Nice and easy does it so taking baby steps mixed with a great deal of self-compassion, willingness and an attitude of gratitude can set you up for success.

For example, a homework exercise provided by your therapist might have you “try on” a new role as a psychologically different persona by experimenting with new thought and behavioral styles and encourage you to get you out of your tendency to ineffectively problem solve (binging Netflix while you procrastinate that important item on your To-Do list anyone?!). This type of homework assignment example creates new experiences and perspectives thereby creating opportunities for change. Change is what you are looking for, right? As the saying goes, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

So, the next time you hear the word “assignment” or “homework”, could it be an invitation for you to create the life experiences that you want? Might it be a way through your current challenges into feeling more serenity and joy? Yes, yes, and yes! 

Now, go forth and prosper but don’t forget to bring your homework with you to your next session. You and your therapist will have a great deal of valuable information from which to work from. It also feels pretty great to tackle something new and out of your comfort zone that you can share with a trusted professional. Self-esteem here you come!! Oh, and last but not least, this is YOUR therapy so if homework doesn’t suit you or if life feels overwhelming, let your therapist know! Tailoring your treatment plan to your individual needs and lifestyle sets you up for success while advocating for yourself is another step towards healthy self-esteem. Talk to your therapist about your desire for and the benefits of therapy homework today!

-Erford, B. T., (2020), 45 Techniques every counselor should know, 3rd ed. Pearson Education, Inc.


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