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How Long Will Therapy Take?

Zoe Mittman Illinois

Licensed Social Worker 

Your therapy journey is unique to you. That said, I can’t tell you how long it will take. Some people might stay in therapy for most of their lives. Other people go through therapy, pause for some time, and return later. Another person might seek out short-term therapy. There is no one-size fits all answer. It ultimately depends on what you hope to get out of therapy and your treatment goals. When starting therapy, keeping an open-mind is key. 

If you begin your journey with a strict set of rules, you may be closing the doors to the possibility of treatment options. There is nothing wrong with having an idea of what you are looking for. In fact, that is wonderful! I just encourage you to be accepting of all the options out there. By focusing on the number of sessions you wish to have, that can be setting yourself up for failure as you are focused on strictly the outcome, and not the process itself. It can take away from the richness of your therapeutic journey. An initial consult call with a therapist is a great way to hear about their approach and get a feel for if they may be a good fit. 

While I cannot give you an exact answer for how long therapy will take, I hope the information above provided you with valuable insight. I am now going to spend some time discussing different types of therapy. 

Solution-Focused Therapy

Solution-Focused Therapy is a short-term treatment. As stated in the name, solutions are emphasized rather than the problem. The primary goal is to draw upon the client’s strengths to build a toolbox of coping skills that can be utilized in a wide variety of situations.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Through CBT, your therapist will help you recognize the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. These sessions are typically structured and homework is assigned between them. One common assignment is maintaining a thought log, which allows you to recognize thought patterns. You will learn about different types of automatic thought patterns and challenge cognitive distortions. Some common cognitive distortions are all-or-nothing thinking, catastrophizing, and discounting the positives (In a future blog, I am going to talk more about cognitive distortions). Through CBT, you will learn that you have the power to respond to your thoughts and emotions. They do not have control over you. CBT is a beneficial treatment for anxiety, depression, and OCD.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is quite similar to CBT. It was originally formed to treat suicidal ideation and Borderline Personality Disorder. Now, DBT can be utilized across a wide range of mental health issues. There are 4 main components of DBT – mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT is a skills-based therapy that teaches you to be in the present moment, manage your emotions while also sitting with them, and improve communication with others. Imagine an anxiety thermometer. If your thermometer was at 100 degrees, your anxiety is intense. If your thermometer is at 10 degrees, your anxiety is mild. DBT will teach you that you can handle challenging situations. I agree – they are not fun. However, you are capable of dealing with distressing situations and they will not last forever. 

Trauma-Therapy

There are so many different kinds of therapy that can be used to treat trauma. I want to emphasize. You do not need to talk about your trauma in order to heal. Processing your trauma should never be forced. It has to be something that you want to do. It is important to have a strong therapeutic alliance and several grounding techniques prior to dipping your toes into the water of processing trauma. Some people benefit from traditional talk therapy, others benefit from art therapy, writing trauma narratives, or Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). 

Ultimately, I hope this blog clarified different types of treatment interventions. Finding a therapist can be an intimidating experience. Starting your therapeutic journey with an open mind will benefit you immensely. At Symmetry Counseling, we’re here to help with all of your therapy needs. We know that the prospect of finding a therapist can be challenging, but we’re here to assist you every step of the way. Most importantly, we offer online counseling services so you can get help from your own home. Schedule a visit today.

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