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Starting with short term therapy could accelerate benefits

Short or long term therapy?

Those seeking counselling often ask “how long will it take for me to see real results”. The answer of course is “It depends” on a whole list factors from the nature of the distress to the experiences of the client and their readiness to change.

Short term or brief counselling, of around six weeks is often suggested for well-defined issues like a specific life crisis or an important decision, but can it be helpful for more deep seated issues such depression or anxiety? And how do you tell if your issue requires brief or long term therapy?

Maybe this over simplifies the choice. It assumes the two forms of therapy are mutually exclusive. I believe you can get the best of both worlds by starting off with a well bounded six week program of therapy and then at the end of the six weeks deciding in conversation with your counsellor whether that is sufficient or whether to carry on for another block of six weeks.

This combined approach has many benefits:

  • An initial six week focus will cover an exploration and assessment of the issue, development of initial insights and strategies and identifying practical steps for change.
  • In six weeks you can build a relation of trust with your counsellor and feel heard.
  • The six sessions end with a summary and review so you know what progress you are making. 
  • It may be enough to empower you to make the changes you want.
  • You have the choice to carry on with further counselling sessions, in which case you would have built a firm foundation and have a better idea of what you want to achieve.
  • The six week focus keeps the responsibility with you for deciding how much counselling is needed and the regular six week reviews make sure that both you and your counsellor keep focused on the issues important to you.
  • Some clients take breaks between six week blocks of counselling in order to apply what they have learnt and then return to continue their journey of personal growth.

Counselling is about helping you to live your life better. Part of that is ensuring that you remain in the driving seat and aware of the importance of making choices. Starting with a well bounded set of six counselling sessions can help maintain focus and accelerate progress.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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