The Benefits of Homework in Therapy
Some love it, some don’t. Some do it, some won’t. The homework-response is never quite the same with everyone, but those that actively engage can gain some benefit. In my experience, I have found that homework has some benefits to the therapeutic process.
Some examples of homework are:
* Creating a schedule
*Developing a plan for an event
*Identifying hobbies/personal interests
*Reaching out to someone
*Attending an AA meeting
* Practicing social skills
Those are just a few things/activities that can be given as homework, you can add to that list based on your sessions with your client (s) and the treatment goals you identified. When giving homework, it is important to think about the relevance, the client’s ability to do the task and also consider the client’s safety (emotional and physical). Homework can pave the way for personal growth in your client.
* Clients have something to look forward to: The time in-between each session can vary, depending on clinician availability and scheduling. Some clients engage in therapy weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc. No matter what the time frame, it is important to keep the client engaged in-between sessions. Having something to work on until they show up next can be of great benefit.
* It allows time for processing: Sometimes, we end sessions, knowing that we did not get “everything out” in processing. Writing in a journal, for example, is a great way to continue that processing until the client meets with you next.
*Empowering: If you have been processing skills in your session your client can get practice in applying them in real situations. It can be a very scary thing but also empowering. It is important to have a back-up plan or safety plan for clients depending on the situation.
*Accountability: It can be difficult to follow through at times. Homework can provide your client with the tools to practice accountability and responsibility. It gives them an opportunity to say “hey! I can do this!”
Homework does not only apply to clients. At times the clinician may also have some work to do in order to adequately prepare for upcoming sessions. For example, when giving clients a chapter from a book, or other reading assignments to complete for the next session, I like to also be familiar with the material as it encourages a better discussion and processing of the information. I usually encourage clients to highlight and make notes for discussion points.
Not everyone will agree with or be willing to complete homework as part of their therapy or treatment. It is always a good idea to be sure that clients are open and willing to engage in the activities and if not, processing what is behind the resistance can also give you a better understanding of your client.
Photo credit to SmileGiggleLaugh on Etsy
Callender, K. (2013). The Benefits of Homework in Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 1, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/lessons/2013/09/the-benefits-of-homework-in-therapy/