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Lots of people ask: How long will I be in therapy? The short answer is, well, it depends.
There are many factors that determine length of treatment, including the severity of presenting problems, how well someone responds to treatment and various other factors. As a general guideline however, I would say that the average person is in therapy for 3 - 6 months. That’s usually enough time to resolve most immediate concerns and getting you to “feel like you” again. At the beginning of our work together, I will provide you with my best professional estimate of how long to expect to be in treatment. And of course, the treatment plan will be developed in collaboration with you.
Therapy works. There is plenty of clinical evidence to back that up. If you are feeling that therapy might help, then you should probably make that call or send that email to get help. As the Dalai Lama said, “The purpose of life is Happiness.” I agree!
If you're struggling or stuck, counseling may be a good way to get a new perspective, move forward positively and protect your well-being. And if you're living with a mental health condition, seeing a therapist may be a key part of your treatment plan.
Are you in talk therapy or considering it? These tips can help you make the most of it:
1. Set goals
Be sure your therapist knows what you hope to achieve. For example, perhaps you want to:
Find ways to cope with strong emotions, such as grief
Change behaviors that are making you unhappy
Build healthier relationships
Better manage stress, anxiety or depression
Explore or navigate a major life change
2. Discuss a timeline
It will depend on your needs and goals. Ask your therapist how you'll work together on your goals and how long you might need counseling services. Some issues are chronic or take longer than others to work through. But in other cases, people might feel that they're making progress after just a few sessions.
3. Be honest
Sometimes, talking about personal problems can be uncomfortable. But the more open you are about your true feelings and experiences, the more your counselor can help.
4. Take notes during each session
Reading them over can remind you of what you discussed, including what action steps you should try.
5. Do your homework
For example, your counselor might suggest you write in a journal or change your behavior in a certain way. If you don't get specific tips, ask what you can do outside of therapy to move toward your goals.
6. Welcome new ways
Often, therapy means exploring approaches that feel outside your comfort zone. But trying new strategies for managing or responding to situations is the only way to see if they work. If you give up too quickly, you might miss out on something that really helps.
7. Speak up
Your counselor wants your therapy to succeed — and collaboration is a key to that. So don't hesitate to say if you:
Think a session didn't go well
Don’t feel you're making progress
Want to focus on a new goal
Are considering stopping your therapy
When you're frank, it gives your counselor a chance to think about the best ways to help you.
It's also vital that you develop trust and a good connection with your therapist. So if you don't feel comfortable or you don't feel like you're being heard, it may not be a good fit — and you may benefit from making a change.
Many times, patients quit their treatment prematurely because the immediate crisis is over. This is equivalent to quitting a two week antibiotic prescription after the second day’s dose; the SYMPTOMS are eased, but what about the root cause? It will surely return later because it hasn’t been thoroughly addressed. Momentum toward recovery will be lost as well.
Depression, anxiety, relationship issues, panic attacks, teen and children’s behavior issues, anger management, divorce recovery—these all take time to change, to heal. You didn’t GET this way in a month or two, and it will take longer than that to heal completely. Often, we’ve carried problems of poor self- esteem, drug or alcohol addiction, and other counseling issues for most of our lives.
Periodic check ins, where we go over your progress and look again at your goals in the Plan of Care, help us understand where we have been together in therapy, what we have accomplished, and what still needs to be addressed. This is also a great time for you to “dream” and set new goals for a better life! When these goals have been met and all issues addressed, you are ready to go on to “maintenance care,” where you come in to see me every few months or so for checkups. These checkup visits can go a long way toward maintaining the growth and rational thinking you worked so hard to achieve in our sessions.
When I give you a Plan of Care, I’ve carefully considered your issues, your hopes and dreams, and your goals, using all of my education and experience to help you toward as happy a life as possible. It can be painful to go deeper at first, but the rewards you can experience can be very gratifying and life changing!
No matter if you are coming to Maesk Group Counseling for depression help, anxiety help, marriage counseling, or other issues, many factors determine the depth of relief and satisfaction a client experiences from their counseling. Here are some suggestions for making your therapeutic experience the best possible:
1) Be totally honest. Believe me, I've heard every story. The human condition contains basic elements that exist in all problems presented, and you're not going to shock me, nor am I going to disapprove of you!
2) Be open to new ways of thinking. Although you are free to examine, use, or discard any suggestions I make, remember that behavior change is required for growth. "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."
3) Understand the difference in professional therapy and "talking to a friend." A minimum of seven years of college is required to legally practice as a counselor. We are also required to get several thousand hours of internship experience and supervision before being licensed.
4) Expect some resistance from family or friends. Change, even good change, can be threatening, and comes with a price. Your relationships will change because your world changes when YOU change. There will be people in your life who resist this, who want you to "stay in your box." It is indeed necessary to rock the boat for things to ultimately improve.
5) Do your homework. The true change of the therapy experience only takes place outside of the office, as you test the new ideas I give you and report the results back to me.
6) Journal, journal, and journal some more. The research is compelling: journaling continues the therapeutic progress outside of the session, releases tension, and moves you forward faster.
7) Attend as regularly and as often as possible. For most people, that means a commitment to weekly therapy. It’s also smart to come in occasionally after therapy has ended if you sense a downturn in mood or thinking.
8) Be patient with yourself. It took you a lifetime to develop these thinking patterns; it will take more than a session or two to change them!
9) Make notes after the session. Ideally, schedule enough free time after your therapy to go somewhere and process what came up.
10) Take responsibility for the session. Notice during the week what bothers you, excites you, what insights come up in your journaling that need to be explored further. Bring this information to session.