A question I often get asked by clients in the early stages of therapy is “How long’s this thing gonna take”?

These days we all lead busy lives and it can be hard adding another commitment to a seemingly never-ending list.

Therapy is an investment of time, money and emotions. But how long should it take? And when am I going to start feeling better?!

Unfortunately, like many things in psychology the answer is not black and white. It can depend on things like: 

  • how many problems you are hoping to address,
  • how long the problems have been going on for,
  • what you’re hoping to get out of therapy and even
  • how frequently you see your therapist.

A specific issue or concern that’s relatively new is likely to be addressed much quicker than problems that have been going on for a lot longer.

In my own practice, I’ve seen people that have had good results in a single session and I’ve had others that I’ve been working with for years.

Research indicates about 50% of clients will recover after 14 weekly sessions and 70% will recover after about 23 sessions.  

Ultimately, you decide how long therapy lasts for. Some questions to guide in your decision making are

  • Have you addressed the problems that brought you therapy in the first place?
  • Is there any more work to be done?
  • Do you feel confident that if a similar problem happened to you in the future, you’d be strong enough to face it and overcome it?

Something else to consider is that for some people, therapy can be an ongoing piece of work that doesn’t have to occur all at once.

Some clients come and work with a therapist on a block of work and get what they need from it at that point in time. They finish up and then come back some months or even years later to work on new or pre-existing issues that might have flared up recently.

Clients that I’ve worked with that have come back to therapy after a break are often in a much better place mentally and emotionally than when they first started therapy and so therapy second time around is often a lot more streamlined.

I hope that’s been helpful. Feel free to share this post with anyone who may have questions about this topic or get in touch with me if you have questions of your own.

 

About Dr Jamie

I’m a Clinical Psychologist based in Melbourne who helps adolescents and adults cope with overwhelming emotions and remove the need to numb negative feelings through food, alcohol, sex or drugs. I focus on addressing the root cause of the problem with the goal of creating happiness, peace and lasting change.

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