Therapy homework is an essential part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It is designed to help you manage your substance use and mental health symptoms. The word homework” can be intimidating. It may remind you of grade school and being forced to do uninteresting assignments. No one can force you to do therapy homework like no one can force you to go to therapy. However, t herapy homework can help you better understand yourself, your mental health symptoms, behaviors, and cognitions.
What Is Therapy Homework?
The purpose of therapy homework is to practice tools and skills that you’ve learned in therapy. This can help you gain insight into yourself and help you better understand your mental health symptoms. Therapy assignments are to be performed between sessions so you can discuss them during therapy sessions. This can also help you apply what you learn in therapy to real-life situations. Examples of therapy homework may include:
- Symptom logs
- Self-reflective journals
- Exposure and response prevention exercises
- Visualizing stress reduction exercises
- Mindfulness exercises
A therapist will assign you different types of homework based on what you’re being treated for and where you are in the treatment process. There are three categories that therapy homework generally falls under. The three categories of therapy homework are:
- Psychoeducational: This type of homework is usually assigned at the beginning of the therapy process. These types of assignments require you to read selected materials provided by your therapist to help you better understand your diagnosis and treatment options.
- Self-assessment: This type of homework will be assigned to teach you how to recognize helpful and unhelpful thoughts and behavioral patterns as well as the connections between them. These types of assignments require you to track and record your moods, feelings, and beliefs.
- Modality-specific: This type of homework is assigned to help you manage a specific symptom of a disorder. This could include image exposure exercises to treat particular phobias or relaxation practices to treat generalized anxiety (GAD). These types of assignments will vary depending on the focus of the assignment.
Practice Makes Perfect
The purpose of therapy homework is to practice the skills and techniques that you learn in therapy. It’s similar to a soccer player practicing drills off the field or a musician practicing scales outside of a music hall. If you don’t practice therapy techniques, you’ll forget everything you learned before your next session, preventing you from moving forward in your recovery.
Many of the coping tools you learn in therapy are meant to be used in distressing situations. Distressful situations can alter your brain chemistry and send you spiraling, preventing you from thinking clearly. For these tools to be effective, you must perfect them in times of neutral emotions so you’ll be prepared to use them in times of intense emotions.
Applying Therapy to Real Life
A therapist utilizes their office to create a safe space for you to explore your emotions and feelings. Outside the therapy bubble, people will likely not be sensitive or even aware of your emotional state. Therapy homework helps you apply the tools you learn in therapy to real-life situations.
Real life is unpredictable. You don’t know when you’ll need to use your emotional tools to help you get through the day. You don’t know when you’ll encounter something that triggers emotional distress. The more you reflect on your disorder in your day-to-day life, the better you can understand how it affects your ability to function. This will give you the knowledge to prepare your therapy tools to use in specific situations that you know you’ll need them.
Committing to Recovery
Therapy homework reinstates your commitment to recovery. It serves as a reminder of the behaviors you need to work on and reinforces motivation for behavioral change and growth. Homework further engages you in a subject. For example, English homework engages you with literature, and history homework engages you with historical events.
Therapy homework engages you with your emotional state. Doing so forces you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings. It also forces you to confront uncomfortable emotions from which you may have otherwise decided to run away.
Completing therapy homework demonstrates commitment. It shows your therapist how you are or aren’t improving and what tools have and haven’t worked for you. Homework can act as a therapist evaluation. It tells your therapist what they need to know so they can adjust treatment according to what you are responsive to. Therapy homework can prevent the onset and relapse of mental health disorders.
Therapy homework may be the key to having continued success during your recovery. It can help you manage your thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and mental health symptoms. At Restoration Recovery Center, we take therapy homework seriously. Incomplete therapy homework may result in consequences such as less phone time. The more you dedicate yourself to therapy, the more you will reap the benefits of it. The assigned therapy homework will give you the skills and tools you need to manage your substance use and mental health symptoms. We value you as a person, not a number, so we understand that you require a treatment program and therapy homework that is tailored to your needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, please call (888) 290-0925 to learn how we can help you achieve long-term sobriety through treatments that focus on the body, mind, and spirit.