Not all therapists assign homework, but many do – even if they don’t call it “homework.” Homework in therapy is not meant to be busy work. This is not school, after all. But rather, any assignments given during the course of therapy are intended to supplement and benefit the therapeutic process.

There has been significant research conducted on the use of homework in therapy. Findings consistently indicate that homework maximizes the benefit of therapy and allows clients to realize gains in their life.

At the beginning of therapy, homework is a topic that I review with all of my patients. However, there still comes the times where I have to re-review the importance of homework with my patients after they share they have not completed their work!

Purpose of Homework

Homework in therapy is intended to allow the person to implement the strategies that are being learned in therapy so that they can actualize the changes and gains they are seeking to make in their life. I like to put it this way: therapy sessions do not consume a very large portion of your life. At most, we are talking about 45 to 50 minutes out of your week that you are in a therapy session. While the therapy session lays the foundation for the changes to occur in your life, the actual therapy session is such a small portion of your time and is a false reality.

The place is where you will actually see the gains and progress being made is in your every day life.

This is where homework comes in. To maximize the value of therapy, homework helps you to implement the strategies being learned in your life so you can actually see changes. Homework is usually skills oriented, though not always. When it is skills oriented, it teaches the person how to deal with their problems on their own and not have to rely on their therapist. (Bonus: Any ethical therapist will approach treatment in this way. However, not all therapies are intended to be skills building so this is not to say that those therapist to don’t assign homework are unethical!).

Benefits of Homework

Remember, this is not school. Homework being assigned is not being given to you to keep you busy. If your therapist assigned the homework, it is with the best intentions that what they are asking you to do is going to help you. It is also likely to lead to shortened treatment times, which means overall reduced costs related to treatment and less time dedicated to the therapy process in the long run. 

A Strong Indication of your commitment to Therapy, and to yourself

Finally, completing your homework is an indication of your commitment to therapy, which is a greater indication of your commitment to yourself. When you do not follow through and complete your homework, the message that you are sending is that you really don’t care. And a therapist cannot truly help you if you do not care.

So the next time you want to skip that homework assignment your therapist gave you, remember what the true purpose of it is and how much you want that change in your life.

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