If you’re planning a therapy session, make sure that you pick the right time to go. Research has shown that, when it comes to mental health, not all appointment times are equal.
Here are some tips on finding an appointment time that works for you.
Think about your schedule.
Obviously your schedule will limit when you can make it to the therapist. If you have a 9-5 job, you will have to decide between an appointment early in the morning or late in the evening. If you have other commitments, like visiting the gym in the morning, it may be more complicated to fit therapy into a busy schedule. However, it’s important that you prioritize your psychotherapy appointments. Work may not allow your schedule to be very flexible, but it may mean rearranging your schedule so that you find other time for your regular commitments.
Think about your energy levels.
To get the most out of your therapy session, you want to be alert for it. If you are unable to focus in the mornings, a morning session may not be the best thing for you – even though science is in favor of morning sessions for certain types of therapy. And on the other hand, if you leave work every day feeling drained, then attending therapy after work might not be in your best interest. But this is something you can test with your therapist in order to find a time of day that works the best for you.
Think about how you feel afterwards.
How do you feel after therapy? Do you feel that you think more clearly? Do you feel energetic and ready to face the rest of the day? Then a morning session might be great for you. However, some people leave therapy feeling drained and emotionally raw. This is partially dependant on the person and partially dependant on what the therapy is for, and not at all a sign that the therapy is not effective. But if you typically feel emotionally exhausted after every session, you may want to schedule it later in the day so that you can go straight home to recover rather than needing to immediately engage in other responsibilities.
What are you going to therapy for?
If you are receiving exposure therapy, which helps people with phobias learn to control their panic responses, it has been more rewarding for these individuals when they attend a session in the morning. Research has shown that the stress hormone cortisol is in higher concentration in the morning. This hormone also seems to be useful in unlearning conditioned responses, meaning that those who participated in exposure therapy in the morning made significantly quicker progress than those who underwent the same therapy in the afternoon.