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6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Therapy as an INFJ

Even with the rise in mental health information and the normalizing of going to therapy for mental health, for the INFJ who so often feels misunderstood, they're always met with one big question. Will my therapist actually "get" me? And then that's usually followed by.. "Will I even be able to accurately explain how I'm feeling?"

6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Therapy as an INFJ

1. Find a Therapist That "Just Gets It"

The first and most crucial aspect of therapy is the one that makes the entire thought of following through with therapy, extremely daunting. For the INFJ who avoids small talk like the plague and would much prefer to hear how another person is doing rather than explain their own difficulties, searching for the right therapist is a lot more difficult and uncomfortable than people would imagine.

There’s two things every INFJ must keep in mind on their hunt for a like-minded therapist and those things are, 1. They really are out there somewhere and 2. Some therapists deserve second and third chances.

As an introvert who is known for having fewer close friendships because of the value they place on depth rather than surface level connections, INFJs will certainly become bored of a therapist that has no desire to find the deeper meanings behind their emotions and concerns.

On the other hand, INFJs would want a therapist that is confident they can actually help rather than just someone to vent to, which is a characteristic they can usually judge within 1-2 visits. And for the INFJ, it’s way more important to feel a connection with a therapist than it is for them to have all the degrees in the world.

Above all, intuition is the ultimate deal breaker. If that initial common sense, trust and connection isn’t there, there’s no going around that for this personality type.

2. Take Baby Steps to Freely Express Your Emotions

Once an INFJ finally feels comfortable enough to voluntarily sit with this new stranger, it’s time to be realistic about what this connection is meant for. For the INFJ who is so familiar with being the advocate for other people, it’s quite odd and even unbearable at times to sit on the other side of things and actually receive guidance from someone else.

For the first few times during a therapy session, INFJs should remind themselves that there’s no better time than to try and put into words how they’re feeling. It’s good to keep in mind that nobody is rushing them to open up but there’s also no need to hesitate.

This difficulty with expressing emotions is rooted in the INFJ’s tendency to feel things on a very deep level. Most people with this personality type would consider themselves empaths or highly sensitive people, and accepting this aspect of themselves is a crucial aspect of gaining the most out of therapy.

Once the INFJ finds a safe and patient place where they know they won’t be judged, they may even surprise themselves with the built-up emotions and tension they are able to release.. Sometimes without warning!

3. Write Out Certain Topics to Be Discussed

Speaking of having difficulty expressing their emotions, wants and needs in life - one of the best things an INFJ can do before a therapy session is sit with a pen and paper. Most INFJs are naturally better at expressing their thoughts through written words than they are in face-to-face conversations.

Whether it be that they’re too distracted observing the other person during a verbal conversation or they just can’t find the right words to express what they’re feeling accurately, if an INFJ has the option to take the written way out, they’ll find it much easier.

INFJs have intricate inner worlds, and they can process their feelings for hours, days, and beyond before even thinking about saying them out loud to another person. These mentally-active times are the perfect opportunities for an INFJ to empty their thoughts onto paper in order for both themselves and their therapist to see what’s going behind the many facets of their mind.

By arriving at a therapy session (especially with a new therapist) prepared with notes, goals, talking points, and realizations, INFJs will naturally feel much more at ease and comfortable.

4. Realistic Goals

INFJs; therapy is no place to bring self-criticisms or an overachieving mindset, so just leave them at home. With the natural tendency for perfectionism-rooted self-sabotage, therapy may be used as means of perfecting their mental health to the standard they believe they should be at.

And.. this approach to self-healing defeats a lot of the original purpose behind it. Instead of using therapy as a tool to better themselves, the INFJ may use it as a tool to become their ideal selves, and those 2 approaches are very different and have very different outcomes.

In fact, unrealistic goal-setting is a perfect place to start when speaking to a therapist of habits that may be detrimental to overall mental well-being. When talking to a therapist about personal realistic goals, a great thing to keep in mind is to avoid thinking of therapy as a cure or a magic solution.

For example, instead of saying “I would like to get rid of my anxiety completely,” which probably just isn’t possible, it’s better to say “ I would like to find ways to cope with and minimize my anxiety.” Of course, the INFJ’s logical thinking process knows this to be true, but talking about expectations in a realistic manner sets them up for true attainable success.

5. Ask for Honest and Direct Feedback

Just as an INFJ is judging and observing their new therapist’s behaviors, the therapist is doing the exact same thing. Without extroverted feeling at hand, most therapists have to decipher how to effectively communicate with their patient the hard way.

They’re testing their limits of how honest, upfront, critical, logical and emotional they can be around their patient, and for the INFJ who can be difficult to read, sometimes it doesn't hurt to help them out a little.

Ironically, the INFJ’s ability to read between the lines allows them to gain the sense of direction their therapist may be going in before they even get there. In fact, not only are INFJs able to do this, but they’re naturally wired to try and gauge where conversations, connections and thought patterns are headed.

However, other times, an INFJ may have false leads, directing them to a sense of hostility that isn’t actually there. Because most therapists are trained to keep their emotional biases out of their therapy approach, it’s not as easy to read them as some INFJs may think. This is when an INFJ’s observant nature works in the opposite way they hoped it would.

And so..there's nothing better for an INFJ than to just let a new therapist know that they are more than capable of handling truths and that they actually prefer a more honest and direct approach. Remember therapists are only human, and it’s okay to ask if you are unsure about what they are trying to say or hint to you.

6. Accept That Therapy Is a Journey

Like everything in life, it’s not about the destination but the adventure it takes to get there. And sometimes, there’s no destination at all. Therapy is one of those things, and it wouldn’t be logical to think otherwise.

For the INFJ who may even silently compare their mental health and healing progress with those around them, it’s a good reminder to know that therapy is not only a journey but progress looks entirely different from one person to the next.

Therapy and mental healing is never linear, and it’s certainly not something that should be compared amongst friends or family. Instead, taking the leap to mental or emotional counseling should be seen as a long-term version or self care.

INFJ’s have a natural desire to improve and to become their authentic and ideal selves, yet there shouldn’t be any guilt attached to not attending therapy as often or attending more often than in the past.

And there shouldn’t be any guilt in going back to therapy after you’ve hit your ‘end-date-goal’ or after you thought you’ve learnt every coping mechanism in the book. It’s okay to go to therapy once a week, once a month, or even once a year.