Therapy Takes Time
“How many sessions do I need?” “When will I start to feel better?” “How long does therapy last?”
When clients ask me how long therapy is going to take, I don’t have a straightforward answer for them. I typically say that the usual timeline for meaningful therapeutic change is 6 months, and goes up from there.
Although a client may wish to have a clear and customized timeframe to their success, ultimately, therapy is not one-size-fits-all.
Many personal aspects of one’s life take time. Whether it be learning a new skill, instrument, or language– we have to put time and effort into ourselves in order to see positive and lasting changes. Why would psychotherapy be any different?
According to Consumer Reports, meaningful change begins at the six-month mark. However, clients who continue therapy for a year or two do significantly better. Generally, clients who invest time and effort into their therapy have a stronger sense of identity, improved relationships, and understand their feelings and behaviours more.
Every Client is Different
Every client’s story is unique and the time needed to heal is immeasurable. There are a variety of factors that can affect the length of therapy- such as a client’s past trauma, number of goals, frequency of sessions, and readiness for change.
Some individuals begin therapy to target a specific problem– and therefore may only need therapy short-term to feel better. However, therapy can be a much slower process when the client has a history of complex trauma. These deep-rooted issues often involve important relationships in an individual’s life, such as with parents. This can exacerbate trust issues, which affects a client’s ability to confide in their therapist.
It is no secret nothing worthwhile in life is cheap nor easy. Long-term therapy, although daunting at first, provides lifelong positive impacts. Ultimately, nothing is more valuable than changing one’s life.
Why Clients Drop Out Early
Unfortunately, there are many cases of clients who don’t stay in therapy long enough in order to see positive changes. This can be for a variety of reasons such as insurance issues, financial constraints, lack of readiness, and increased hesitancy.
With therapy we are taking time to establish a relationship, build trust, identify issues and patterns, set goals, process underlying blocks, teach skills, and foster deeper understanding. All of these things take time, but are worth it if you want meaningful change.
Regular therapy is not always possible due to finances and limited insurance coverage. These restraints often cause difficulty for a client to engage long-term. Although symptom relief, emotional support, and insight can still be achieved in a shorter window, the longer one stays in therapy, the more consistent and long-lasting their changes are.
As well, another common reason clients drop out is that their therapist may not be a good fit for them. There are many traits we as therapists should possess in order to build a client’s trust. It is important to make them feel comfortable and valued, and show them that staying in therapy is worth it.
Individuals seeking counselling want to work with someone who is patient, listens carefully, and doesn’t just provide quick solutions to every problem. They want to know that they can go at their own pace and be supported along the way. A good therapist should be able to identify the root cause of a client’s issue and help them see change that goes beyond short-term relief.
Ultimately, is not enough for a client to be in therapy if they aren’t taking an active role in change and the therapeutic process. This entails attending sessions regularly, being transparent, working on goals in and outside of sessions, and communicating issues or hesitancy to their therapist.
Looking for long-term change? Book your free 15-minute phone consultation today.