by Murray Heintz, Registered Psychologist

Have you ever heard of a Therapy Blueprint?

A therapy blueprint is a space to reflect on how your difficulties developed, what kept them going, and what you learned during therapy. It can help you plan how you will maintain your gains, review what warning signs you might need to remain aware of, and remember what might be helpful should it feel like your difficulties are beginning to return.

The first step of your blueprint is to identify and label the problems. Ask yourself what problem(s) brought you to treatment and how they developed.

Step two is reflecting on what kept them going. Why did the problems not get better on their own? Examples of things that often keep unhelpful or unhealthy thoughts and behavior going include avoidance, safety-seeking behaviors, and unhelpful beliefs.

Step three is identifying how therapy helped you to deal with your problem(s). What have you learned that has been helpful? What strategies or techniques did you learn? (e.g., challenging my thinking, facing my fears, testing my beliefs). Describe any behavioral experiments that you conducted: What beliefs did you test? What did you discover?

Step four focuses on how you think now. Consider some typical situations that used to trigger strong feelings. Compare your thinking patterns before therapy and now. How did you interpret these situations then? What do these events mean to you now?

Step five requires you to ask yourself how you do things differently now. Consider some typical situations that used to trigger you and compare your reactions / responses before therapy and now.

Step six requires you to ask yourself how far you have come & your goals for the future. What have you achieved so far? How are you going to build on your achievements?

Step seven addresses possible setbacks and obstacles. What could cause a setback, and how would you deal with it? What obstacles do you anticipate might be challenging? What would you do if your difficulties returned in a way that meant you were struggling?

Step eight: If you could send a message to your future self, what would it be?

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