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  • Writer's pictureYvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS

5 Reasons Why I Assign Homework in Counseling

When people think of the word homework so many bad memories come to mind. I can't say I blame you as life has taught us that homework is nothing but a time consuming waste of time. However, contrary to experience homework can be a useful and important tool in life and especially in therapy. Here are some reasons why I assign homework in our time together.

  1. It’s My Style. I use CBT techniques in our work together in which homework is an integral component of. But, honestly even if I didn’t, it would still be a tool in my tool box of working with you, as I find setting time outside of therapy and doing soul searching to be an integral part of the journey and process of change. It’s the times in your solitude when you get to sit in your thoughts thinking about the assignment or reflecting on what was discussed in session that everything has a chance to settle and you get to catch your breathe. Homework is not everyone’s favorite word, but I through every bit of creativity have to make the process as productive and painless as possible. Types of homework I assign include reading, watching videos, doing research, setting goals, picking your ONE Word, listening to podcasts, practicing new skills and reporting back, implementing/improving lifestyle choices, worksheets, and or journaling (this one is my favorite).

  2. Brings you into the process. The progress you experience in therapy is largely in your control. Assigning homework makes the process of therapy more collaborative and efficient. You’ll hear me tell you that you’re the expert of your life and that’s because you are. You have invited me into the adventure of your life to bring perspective, however my knowledge is only half of the process. Without an active person that is committed to the process of change we are limited in our progress together because lasting change cannot occur in the box of time in which we sit together. You are a key factor in the process of change and there’s nothing more exciting than having an active participant.

  3. Self exploration. Many of us go through life at the speed of light never stopping to get to know ourselves and in turn missing out on a wealth of self knowledge and self love. Everyone is uniquely wired and taking the time to understand yourself is so freeing and powerful. Developing the habit to create space and time to dig deep into our thought closet examining and taking inventory of our thoughts, feelings, desires, and dreams is eye opening. According to Ryan Howes, Ph.D, psychologist, writer and professor in Pasadena, California, Self-exploration involves “taking a look at your own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and motivations and asking why. It’s looking for the roots of who we are — answers to all the questions we have about [ourselves],” Self exploration “helps people understand and accept who they are and why they do what they do, which improves self-esteem, communication and relationships,” he said.

  4. Practice New Skills. There’s nothing like time that allows you to practice the new skills we learn in session together. I call it a prescription change, in that you come in seeing things one way and when you leave the goal is to look at and experience life differently. The difference takes time. Time in which you need to adjust to, find a rhythm, and reconstruct new healthier habits.

  5. Accountability. Gives you a person to have to report back to regarding the newly applied habits, behaviors, ways of thinking, and ways of handling and or coping with both situations, people and feelings. Knowing that someone is going to be following up with you and checking on the progress of your success brings another element to the ever so challenging but exciting process of change.

Homework is a tool. A tool that can if used intentionally can take you to the next level, can help you take that next brave step and even for some can help you discover new and exciting things about yourself and the world around you. Still not convinced that homework can be positive. That's okay. In our time together you'll get the opportunity to explore the positive side of homework and experience the transformative work that comes alongside it.

"I feel very lucky to have found Yvette as my counselor. Her use of homework makes a big difference in my growth. When you go to a session it doesn't end at that 45 minute mark. It continues even without her there because of the homework. The homework keeps you thinking about the changes you are trying to make, which is a good thing. I'm never overwhelmed eventhough I'm working on a lot right now. She guides you through it all. Thank you Yvette for helping me grow and make the changes I want to make. You really are making a difference with all of the techniques you bring to the table!" - Client T.


Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for individuals looking for a better and brighter tomorrow by unpacking their past and present difficulties, stresses, and mindsets in order to grow from the old and embrace the new. I'm passionate about helping people have rewarding relationships. If you're in the Saint Lucie or Martin County Area and co-parenting feels "chaotic", please give me a call at 772-361-8448 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation.


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