How important is homework in therapy?

It feels cliche to say that therapy doesn’t work until you do- but it’s the truth. Therapy in itself is built on the idea of self improvement with the help of a facilitator. There’s no shame in reaching out for help, we could all use some of it. But in order for the help to be helpful there are certain things that must be done. Just like it takes effort and discipline to learn a new skill and to make ourselves better, similarly, therapy requires effort. People need to be willing to work on their own selves in order to reap the benefits of therapy. While the first, most difficult step has been achieved by you- reaching out to the therapist, it now opens the doors for you to actually begin the work. Successful therapy relies on using assignments outside of sessions to reinforce learning and practice newly acquired skills in real-world settings (Mausbach et al., 2010).

The work that the client has to do in therapy extends to doing the activities or the tasks the therapist assigns to you, for you. The intent of these activities is to set the foundation for future sessions. While it can seem like a monumental task in the beginning, it’s important to stick to the same for all future sessions to materialise so that you can quit therapy sooner. 

Activities or tasks that a therapist may assign can include writing in a journal, performing breathwork, shaping and creating a routine that you wish to follow by incorporating different elements in your lifestyle such as exercising, eating healthy and sleeping 8 hours a day. 

These activities are based on the client and their area of problems that they are working on. For instance, a client who has a bad relationship with themselves may be asked by the therapist to write 10 things they love about themselves, on which the therapist will build in the future sessions. 

Benefits of homework:
This may make people think that it’s another way to keep their clients busy, to keep their minds off of the problem. However, this is the partial truth. Homework works on two levels- it channelises unmanageable emotions into something healthy and concrete and it provides the therapist access to the inner workings of the client. Moreover, it provides a sense of accomplishment. On bad days, your task(s) for the day may encourage you to get out of bed and make you feel better even if you don’t do much. 

Does therapy = homework?
However, to someone in severe distress, homework may seem like a task that can’t be accomplished. In the beginning of your therapy journey, maybe the only thing you can do in sessions is talk to your therapist about the past or recent life events, or just tell them how you feel; and that is completely normal. It is expected from someone to have gone through distressing life events to not be able to perform tasks on request. What is important to know for you as a client before you pick a therapist is that the degree of homework received varies from therapeutic approach to therapeutic approach. CBT is known to provide the client with ample homework for greater introspection and reflection. Approaches that delegate lesser homework are psychodynamic approach, problem-solving approach and exposure therapy.

Remember, it's okay to seek guidance when navigating life's challenges. If you ever feel the need to talk, explore, or understand more about yourself and your emotions, Souled Therapy is here to support you. 🌟 Begin your therapeutic journey with us today.