How to Get the Most out of Counseling in San Diego

Solidify The Session

Counseling in San Diego is no easy task. You talk about serious and important issues in the personal counseling sessions. It’s important for what happens in therapy sessions to stick. To help make the most of each counseling session, journal about what you talked about. This includes the things you learned, the “a-ha” moments, any lingering questions that have come up, and the tools your therapist gives you.  Studies show that journaling after a traumatic or stressful experience leads to improvements in both physical and psychological health. A study done in New Zealand found that even physical injuries healed faster when participants journaled!

marriage counseling san diego therapy couples therapy trauma growth help

Journaling promotes critical self-awareness, helps individuals create and continuously work towards goals, and improves flexibility of thinking. Through journaling, you will better be able to encode the information and your working memory will improve. Journaling helps you process your emotions and practice mindfulness; it can even improve confidence! Not only are you solidifying the tools in your mind, but you will now have a list of the helpful information at your fingertips. This will make it more concrete. 


Typically, you meet with your therapist for one hour a week. That’s one out of one hundred and sixty eight. There is no surprise, then, that the work will need to continue outside of the therapy room. One important tool to help keep you on track and advancing in treatment throughout the week is bibliotherapy. Ask your therapist to recommend a few books that may help you work on your counseling goals. Ask your therapist for a few options so you can see which works best for you. Counseling in San Diego (or anywhere) is a lot of work. You are in control of how much you get out of your counseling experience, and outside tools are an asset. 

We have put together a list of some books we find most beneficial here.

1-3 To Work On

After your counseling session, pick 1-3 things that you want to work on until your next session. If your session is coming to a close and you want some guidance on where to start, speak up. Ask your therapist which goals would make a good starting point. Make your goals realistic, yet obtainable. We like to call them SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. If you are working on improving your self-esteem and you and your therapist discussed your negative self-talk, after the session, you might decide that every day you will have to find 1 positive thing to say to yourself.  This would be your work for the week that will help advance your treatment.  

Daily Check-in

Do a daily check-in on your mood, stress levels, and items you want to track.  This can be hard to get in the habit of doing, so a tool that might help is making a chart to put on your fridge, mirror, or nightstand. If you put something where you will see it, you’ll be reminded to take this time. Take a moment to stop and reflect on your day as well as how you’re feeling in that particular moment. The more you can press the pause button, reflect on your physical and emotional experience, the more you can choose how you want to go along in your day. Another tool to get started on making this a habit can be to set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pause and reflect.

By tracking your mood, stress levels, and the goals you are working towards, you can look back and reflect on how the week went. This can help you connect pieces that you might not otherwise. Keeping with the previous example, when you look back on your week you notice that you did not write down a positive thing Thursday or Friday. Upon reflection, you see that after a long day at work on Wednesday your stress levels were high. This might have lead you to losing momentum with your goal. You can start to see a pattern. Stressful day leads to low mood leads to more negative self-talk. With daily check-ins, you can catch this before they set you awry from your path. Next time you have a stressful day at work, you can catch it and instead of letting it upheave you, you might plan a self-care night. 

Get Support

It can be difficult at times to keep yourself accountable to your work, so reach out to your community for help.  Talk to your friends, family, coworkers, or partner about your weekly goals and how to keep you accountable. Making it a habit to talk about your goals can help you get the support you need.  The more you talk about the struggles, the more power you take away from them. Discussing your goals with others can also help you gain different perspectives. It is often easy to get stuck in our way of thinking. An outside perspective might be just what you need when you’re feeling stuck.  


The day of your next counseling session, take a few moments to reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you want to talk about in the sessions. This is a good time to prioritize what you want to talk about. Maybe something that seemed really important to talk about on Tuesday now feels like less of a big deal. When you take time to reflect you will gain better insight on where you are making the most progress and where you are getting stuck. Reflecting on what worked and didn’t work throughout the week will help you become more aware of your growth and more organized for your therapy.  

If you want to get the most out of your counseling, know that it is possible. It just takes a few moments each day. If you need an easier way to keep it organized, try out our journal. Alternatively, you can create a Google document or spreadsheet if that is more fitting to you. These will help you do all these steps in one place. How do you get the most out of your therapy? Leave a comment below so we can hear from you! 


Read More

Counseling with Estes Therapy

All you need to know about counseling

Recognizing Unwanted Behaviors: How our Childhood Experience Affects our Adult Life

body language communicaiton advice

What is Your Body Language Saying About You?

Get To Know Jennine Estes: Therapist & Relationship Expert

how to stop the negative thinking

Stop Critical Thinking: Live Without Beating Yourself Up

Healthy Communication: It’s Not What You Said But How You Said It

It’s been nearly 20 years since I first became interested in studying psychotherapy. I began practicing the scientific approaches to psychotherapy in 1997 and I was hooked from then on.

I earned my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family psychotherapy in 2004 and I am currently licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist MFT (LMFT#47653) with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).

I focus my practice upon the empirically-based and proven research methods of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

I’ve seen these techniques consistently get results and I truly believe they are the most effective at creating positive, long-term change.

Schedule an Appointment

Seeking a therapist can be the best thing you do not just for your relationship, but for yourself. If you are seeking compassionate, knowledgeable, and understanding professional help, we invite you to explore our services. We are here to help you make the most of your life.