The duration of treatment for psychological problems will necessarily vary from person to person. Essentially, the treatment (type and duration) must always correspond appropriately to the nature and severity of the difficulties presented by the person. Acute difficulties usually require fewer treatment sessions than chronic illnesses. In addition, the duration of treatment also varies depending on the type of treatment provided; cognitive-behavioral treatments, which focus on a specific problem, are usually shorter than psychotherapies with a broader focus.
So how long does treatment usually take to work? Research shows that most people who receive psychotherapy experience relief from symptoms and are better able to function in their lives. About 75 percent of people entering psychotherapy show some benefit from it, 1 Psychotherapy has been shown to improve emotions and behaviors and is related to positive changes in the brain and body. Benefits also include fewer sick days, less disability, fewer medical problems, and higher job satisfaction. There is still a lot of stigma attached to the idea of looking for a licensed therapist to help improve your mental health.
And if, as you spend your time in therapy, you're not sure what your therapist is talking about when he says things like, “This was great progress today,” it doesn't hurt to ask them directly what they mean by that. Hopefully, this way you'll know what to ask your own therapist, as well as what to look for in your own experiences in the future. First, of course, you'll discuss with your therapist what gets you there and what your specific goals might be. With cognitive and behavioral therapies, clients who actively work on relevant challenges or tasks between therapy sessions, especially in weekly sessions, greatly increase the effectiveness of therapy.
It may not be possible to find a well-qualified program or therapist nearby, increasing the time and cost commitment of treatment. Your therapist will support you and help you synthesize your feelings into practical strategies for coping with anything you're struggling with. Working closely with a trusted therapist who is right for you in weekly sessions can make noticeable improvements fairly quickly if you consider how long you may have been living without therapy and trying to manage everything yourself. Group, family, or couples therapy sessions can often last a little longer, depending on your needs and the availability of a therapist.
Your first appointment is to meet your therapist, discuss your mental health, and decide if you're comfortable with him. Your therapist also learns a lot about you from the behaviors, patterns, and thoughts you exhibit in the session, which can help dictate what “success” looks like. Psychotherapy can be provided by different types of professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed social workers, licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurses, and others with specialized training in psychotherapy. Here are some tips on how to start a conversation with your therapist when you're not sure how to start.
So if your therapist says something related to your progress that seems confusing or that doesn't offer the context and clarity that would help you better chart your therapeutic journey, always ask.