One questions that I am often asked is “How long does therapy take?”
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer, especial before an initial assessment. There are so many factors to consider when trying to determine the length of therapy.
What do you want from therapy?
One thing that affects the length of therapy is what is wanted for the therapy. Some clients have very clear goals when entering therapy. “I want a better relationship with my partner” “I’m struggling with my grandfathers death”, others can be more broad “I just don’t feel fulfilled and I’m not sure why”, “I find I’m worrying all the time and I want to stop worrying”. The more defined and narrower the focus the shorter the therapy can be.
Don’t worry if you are unsure about what you want from therapy. This can be discussed during the initial assessment and can be refined through out the therapy.
How long have you been feeling this way?
Another aspect that can affect the length of therapy is how long you have been feeling like something isn’t right. The longer it has been the deeper we may need to explore, and this can take time. Remember it has taken our whole lives to build up our personality, habits, needs, wants and desires. To explore and change theses aspects of ourselves can take time. If it’s something that has happened relatively recently it may be a short about of time. If it’s something that has built up over your entire life starting in childhood this will take a longer and deeper exploration.
During therapy other concerns can be brought to the surface and revealed. For example while exploring your relationship with your partner it may come to light that these issues are rooted in your relationship to your parents and their relationship with each other. This could mean a shift off focus from “wanting a better relationship with my partner” to exploring deeper aspects of your earlier relationship with your partners. At this point a good therapist will ask you if you’d like to change the focus, why this might be a beneficial path to take ( it may be helpful for your original goal as well) and what this would entail, including possibly extending the therapy.
Many revelations can surface during therapy and it is worth considering the effort and time it takes to full explore these.
Trust and the therapeutic relationship
Developing a relationship and building trust takes time. In order to full explore and open up at a deep level, sometimes about uncomfortable thoughts and feelings it takes trust. To gain the most from therapy you have to be able to trust your counsellor with ever aspect of yourself including the darker aspects that can be difficult to admit to, even to yourself. I’ve heard clients say to me on many occasions “There is something I haven’t been telling you” and “I’ve never told anyone this before”. As a counsellor these statements let me know that trust is there in our relationship. How long it takes to get there varies from person to person and what it is that they are not saying or have never said.
So how long does therapy take?
I hope this has helped explained why there is no easy answer to this question, but when you enter into therapy I am more than happy to discuss it and reassess as we go along.
From experience I notice most of my clients experiences some sort of shift around four to eight sessions where they begin to feel the benefits of the therapy and understand what they want from the therapy, what they need from the therapy and have a better understanding of how deep they want to go and how long it may take.
I recommend booking 8 - 12 sessions initially as this will give you time to build trust, to get used to talking about yourself and the issues you may have and utilising therapy. It will also allow the time to give you a greater understanding of whether you want more sessions to work at a deeper level and how long this will realistically take.
To find out more please get in touch