What to expect in therapy

After the question how much, the question how long is often asked. How long will this take, how long do I have to come?  It’s a fair question, but not always easy to answer. If you enter a program, such as an addiction treatment program, you are usually given an expected length of stay, such as 5 days, 3 weeks, 2-5 months. This should be based on accomplishing the goals of treatment, or your treatment plan.

In individual therapy, the length of treatment is not as clear. It depends on what issues you wish to resolve, and how long it takes to resolve them. It is based on the definition of “resolve” that you and your therapist work out.  Does resolve mean the issue is completely gone from you life? Does resolve mean you can function relatively well on a daily basis, but still have some occasional, lingering emotional distress.

It can also depend on the type of therapy and therapeutic process just a few of which are: cognitive therapy, brief therapy, solution focused, psychodynamic, hypnosis, DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy).

Most of the time, I see clients between 6 months to two years.  Again, that depends on what your goals are, and what the problems you want to resolve are. After the acute stage, the crisis or final straw that brings you to therapy is managed,  the next stages of healing can be the focus.  Maintainance and ongoing support continue as long as it is beneficial to the you.  This is evaluated and discussed as therapy continues.  It is optimal that you and I, client and therapist agree when it is time to close, and set the goal to complete the treatment.

Sometimes, a “refresher” helps someone get through a tough time, or as my therapist used to say tripping over a wrinkle in the carpet.   Sometimes, you, a client, needs a break to process information, to practice living life with new ideas, coping skills and emotional clarity. I have client who came for therapy for about a year. She felt that she had gotten what she needed. She returned to treatment about 8 months later, ready to deal with the next “layer” of healing.  She commented that she feels that she is making progress so much faster now than during the first year. Indeed, she seems to be taking quantum leaps in emotional healing.  What a joy to be along on her journey!

Some clients may find that psychotherapy, or even addictions treatment is not what they need. They need support and feedback on another level, a level that has to do with personal growth and little to do with a “diagnosis”.  For these clients, coaching, or life coaching is a good fit.  More about coaching in future posts. Maybe it’s for you!

To your well-being!

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