Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
I have a ton of things on my mind each day. Even when I’m in bed, my head is spinning with reminders, ideas, and random thoughts! I’ve gotten so busy that I’m starting to forget what my weekly therapy appointments were about, especially those focused on the previous week. When my therapist and I chat, I tend to have trouble focusing since my responsibilities or something interesting I saw online always pops back into my head and I’m constantly wanting my phone to either help me take care of them or to share them with her. I feel so frustrated. I want to be completely present and attentive during my sessions so I can think about them and use what we talked about later on, but it seems like the ideas we discuss and the smart things my therapist says just fly out of my head soon after I hear them. And to make matters worse, I’m embarrassed to bring this up to her.
The “Forgetting” Problem
In a recent story from Psychotherapy Networker, Ron Taffel, Ph.D., shared his experiences with “staying remembered.” He recalls how many of his teen and young adult clients would begin sessions by asking him to remind them what they had previously discussed. He noticed the change about 15 years ago when online communication became the norm.
While it’s not clear if there’s a direct correlation between technology and attention spans at therapy sessions, Taffel noted (and we have also observed) that clients often bring their technology into sessions to share a funny Instagram post, an upsetting text conversation, or a local event they think their therapist might be interested in attending.
Things are surely different from the times when therapists and patients didn’t share that sort of day-to-day stuff. Taffel described that one of his clients went straight for her phone as soon as her session ended, and when she returned the following week, he realized she’d retained next-to-no information from their previous conversation.
When focus and attention are so fleeting that the things we talk about in therapy are forgotten as quickly as we forget the stuff we skim through on social media, there’s a problem. However, with this in mind and not wanting to be forgotten, Dr. Taffel began using some unique methods to help his clients slow down, notice, and remember their sessions. And now many of the therapists at Rice Psychology Group use these and other strategies to help clients keep track of and remember what happens in their sessions.
For millennials seeing a therapist, you might be wondering how this topic applies to you. Well, as you know, “time is money” and time spent in therapy is no different. Whether you’re using insurance to help pay for your therapy or are paying out-of-pocket, I’m guessing you’d like to use your time wisely and be able to hold onto what happened in therapy. Sometimes, the magic of therapy can’t easily be described, but it’s mostly helpful to be able to remember and reflect, if not put into action, what you discussed.
Taking a Millennial-Focused Approach
Taffel and his client knew there was an obstacle in their sessions, which led them to take a different approach. His client’s speedy dialogue placed her in an almost dissociated state that meant he had to find a way to slow her down.
His solution was to stop her right after she said something especially meaningful to ask if she’d noticed what she’d just said and then commenting or reacting to it. He calls attention to it by helping her repeat what she’d said to give it time to sink in. He now repeats important words, phrases, or ideas at the end of his sessions to help them stick longer.
Other therapists have come up with their own creative ways to help their clients remember their conversations, like encouraging them to take notes on their phones while others summarize ideas with metaphors to make them easier to digest.
At Rice Psychology Group, we sometimes use a whiteboard for important ideas or keep a running summary in a journal that clients bring to sessions each week. There are many imaginative approaches that can help with making therapy stick.
Your Millennial Therapy Session is Just a Phone Call Away
Our team of licensed psychologists and therapists in Tampa understand that no two people are the same when it comes to remembering important things. It’s the reason why we take unique approaches with each of our clients.
If you need someone to listen to your story and help you navigate through any bumps along the way, then Rice Psychology Group is here for you. We work most days until early evening and even offer phone or video sessions. Reach out to us today to schedule your session.