How long does therapy last?

A question that clients often ask is how long does therapy last and how will know when it’s finished?

In truth, there is no real answer the fist part of this question since it depends greatly on the nature of what brings you to therapy and how long you may have been experiencing difficulties. An essential element of the therapeutic process is the building of a working alliance between the client and the therapist, this normally takes a minimum of five to six sessions and so frequently the real work does not start until this alliance is established. This being said the time therapy takes is also largely depended on the complexity of the issue and the clarity within which it can be defined. So if you’ve had therapy before and know what to expect, six to eight weeks may be all it takes to work through whatever brings you. However, for many clients, there is a period of exploration before a clear view of the problem is formed and the real work begins.

Sometimes clients have experienced difficulties for much of their life and working through these takes time and care both to work through and resolve in a meaningful and purposeful way, which brings lasting results. In my practice, it's been typically the case that approximately 40% of individual clients attend at least 8 sessions or more, while 37% attend up to 18 sessions and 23% attend 24 sessions or more. Couples on the other hand typically attend just 6 to 8 sessions initially and then review periodically from time to time.

The second question often asked is how do I know when therapy ends? This very much depends on the setting of goals and purpose of the therapy agreed both initially and after regular reviews towards your progress.  Generally, both client and therapist know when the work is done and jointly agree that this is the case. Contrary to what many think therapists do not want to prevent clients leaving and actively work towards establishing the client's autonomy and independence this being the true mark of successful therapeutic relationship.  That being said endings and successful endings are a very important part of the final healing process and it’s normal for client and therapist to plan the ending of therapy rather than just let it happen and potentially leave unresolved feelings and unanswered questions at the end of the process.

 

YOUR FIRST CONSULTATION

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR FIRST CONSULTATION

Your first consultation is as much for you to find out about the therapist as it is about your therapist to learn about you, so don't feel shy in asking any questions which may not have already been answered. The therapist should also inform you of their terms of business, you should feel no obligation to continue if at this point your not comfortable with the arrangements or the therapist fails to answer your questions adequately.

If you both decide you can work together the therapist may ask you to provide some basic contact and medical information such as known illnesses or allergies, which they should know about in case of emergency, together with an emergency contact if you have one.

Your therapy will be typically based upon therapeutic goals and objectives, which you both agree, which will likely have been already discussed during the session but may require further sessions to clarify and review.

Therapy will usually be weekly and regular as this is necessary for the therapeutic process to succeed. You should expect that their may be some enquiries about your past as well as your present circumstances, however, you should also expect that you will do most of the talking as therapy is essentially all about you.

At times your therapist may not say anything, this is not meant to make you feel awkward but reflects how important it is for them to listen carefully and for you to know that you are being heard. From time to time they may ask short clarifying questions, this is quite normal and just a way for them to ensure they have understood you fully.

Lastly it's normal to review how your therapy is going and possibly to adapt or make changes to the overall therapeutic goal if this is necessary, it's also a chance to check that both therapist and you the client are working together as expected with both trust and mutual respect

Making Contact

Making Contact with a Therapist.

You may have found a therapist details in a number of ways, through a counselling directory, an advertisement, a friend who has recommended them or perhaps simply a straight forward google search. Whichever it may be, you now have a choice in the way you chose to contact them, this can be by phone, email or perhaps through the enquiry form if they have one on a website.

For many this first step is the hardest of all, therapists understand this fully and it's why amongst many practical reasons they offer these quite different methods of initial contact. If you chose to call l don't be put off if they don't pick up immediately and the call goes to voicemail, likely hood is they are just with a another client and can't take the call at that time. If you chose to leave a message ,let them know when is a convenient time for them to phone you back or if perhaps you would like them to contact you another way.

Once you do make contact you can tell them as much or as little as you wish about your concerns, many simply say I would like to make an appointment and this is perfectly normal at this stage and you don't have to feel the need to explain yourself in detail. 

Thinking about therapy?

Thinking about therapy and not sure what to expect

The decision once taken to enter therapy is a big step in the process of beginning to take care of yourself. Therapy can have multiple purposes, to improve your mental health, address problematic self-beliefs, behaviours and feelings or perhaps to help you maintain or possibly create new healthy meaningful relationships.

If your completely new to therapy reaching out to someone who is likely completely unknown can feel very scary and perhaps the whole process is a bit of a mystery.

Contrary to what many may believe people seek counselling or therapy for very many reasons and while these may include conditions like depression, stress or say anxiety, many also seek help for personal and or career development, help with low self esteem , relationships or help in deciding which route to take at a critical juncture in their life and only a very small percentage may suffer from a serious mental illness.