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How Long Do I Need To Be In Therapy?

How long do I need to be in therapy?

 

If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you’ve seen my post about how to know if your therapist is the right fit. Another question I get asked all the time is “how long do I need to be in therapy?” This, like most other things in therapy, doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. But, there are some important factors to consider- so, let’s talk about them!

 

Personal Circumstances

This is typically the most straightforward factor to consider. Does your insurance only cover a certain number of sessions each year or do you have a financial limit each month on what you can pay? These factors can also be decision-makers for some people depending on the circumstances so it is important to check with your insurance and know what you’re able to pay!

 

What are you looking to address?

Some people come to therapy looking to work on or resolve a specific issue like anxiety or depression. Others come looking to do a deeper dive into their past or to have a consistent support in place that they can turn to when they need it. Naturally, the amount of time it takes to accomplish these goals will vary. Some specific issues can sometimes be resolved or better managed in short (12ish weeks) time frames while other more complicated issues may take several years to unpack and understand. Sometimes people want to use therapy as a lifelong tool to help them process life and better understand themselves! There isn’t a wrong answer here but it is important to evaluate what you want to accomplish and how you’d like to go about doing so!

 

The type of therapy matters!

I’m not just talking about individual, group, couples, or family therapy here- although that matters too! Group therapy will often have a pre-determined number of sessions that people commit to when they sign up. Individual, couples, or family therapies can and tend to be more open-ended.

 

It’s also important to consider the therapeutic approach(es) your therapist relies on! Some therapists tend to be more solution-focused and help you find strategies to better manage symptoms which then leads to better functioning. Other therapists prefer to help you gain an understanding of how your past- sometimes all the way back to childhood- plays a role in your life today and what patterns stem from early experiences. Some therapists combine these approaches to help you cope better while also looking to understand how some early experiences have shaped your experience today. Thinking about what approach will help you meet your goals and what type of work you want to do may help determine how long you’ll be in therapy.

 

How are you functioning?

Are you having trouble getting out of bed or completing daily hygiene tasks? Is your work or school performance suffering because of what’s going on? These are things your therapist will consider and discuss with you in regard to your treatment plan. If you’re struggling to do day-to-day tasks, it probably isn’t a wise choice to stop therapy!

 

You’ve got to do the work!

This is a big one! Whether you’re looking to conquer a fear of flying or process lifelong struggles, the length of therapy also depends on you putting in the work! Some therapists give homework between sessions and some challenge clients in session to really open up and dig into what’s going on. As you can imagine, those who follow through on homework or allow themselves to be vulnerable and/or challenged by their therapist will often make progress faster than those who don’t. As with many other things, practice makes progress! The more you practice your coping skills or engage with the process your therapist lays out for you, the more progress you’ll see!

 

While there isn’t a defined length of therapy for any one person or issue, your therapist can help you set goals and outline a therapy plan that works for you. And, if you’re thinking about how long you need to be in therapy or if you’re ready to take a break from therapy- talk to your therapist about this! Be prepared to discuss whether or not you feel like you’ve met goals or have made progress and what you role you want therapy to play in your life. And, the door is always open! It’s always okay to come back after some time away!



Written By,


Alyssa Onan, LPC


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