A patient, Rowena, once asked, “Until when is this therapy?” It’s a common query. But in the case of Rowena, it’s a premature question reflecting her current state or progress.
Psychotherapy requires enough momentum and continuity to reach goals and breakthroughs. It’s therapeutic to have patience for the entire healing process to come full circle.
While the outcome of any intervention cannot be guaranteed, there are indicators to determine your needed length of time for therapy and counseling.
Let me give you some general rules of thumb for these indicators:
* If you are severely distressed with multiple issues, you will need longer length of time for internal work.
* If you’re suffering from an addiction for years (e.g. drugs, sex, gambling, food) and your life-damaging effects/consequences are increasing, you can expect therapy to take longer.
* When there is deep emotional/physical trauma (e.g. divorce, affair, rape, crime, disaster losses), unprocessed pains need more time to sort out and heal.
* Therapy is shorter if you’re able to have a good enough function in your daily life despite the stresses or problems you’re facing. You feel safe with enough support around you.
In regard to frequency of the sessions, again it depends on the level of severity of your psychological state or “wounding” condition. If the need is strong as in the case of major trauma events where distress is extremely high, at least once a week of counseling/therapy is recommended. If your concern is not severe or you’re just doing “top-up” or maintenance to consolidate gains, then a monthly or fortnightly session can be a healthy dose.
A common block in therapy is the unrealistic addiction to “quick hit,” “fix,” or “rush.” In this age of instant gratification, people look for “magic” or “fast food” even in healing deep emotional and psychological wounds. Quite a number leave therapy prematurely or go for surface, short-term relief of drugs or external diversions. As a result, no matter how fast they go, they make no progress. The key to permanent recovery is embracing the process of recovery rather than expecting a one-time event.