Your mental health is personal to you. You bring experiences, strengths, skills, and a unique perspective to what you’re feeling. This goes for everyone. We may have similar experiences, but no two people share the exact mental health experience. Why should your therapy journey be any different?
The approach your therapist takes for your counseling should be tailored to you. That includes the time you take receiving counseling. The length of time therapy takes is dependent on:
The severity of your diagnosis
The kind of treatment you need
We’re going to talk more about each of these factors and how they can affect what you can expect of therapy.
What Affects the Length of Therapy?
The factors that affect how long therapy lasts are the same factors that make your mental health journey unique to you. They have to be taken into account when curating an effective counseling plan.
Depending on each person, the things that affect treatment carry different weights. The impact that they have on your counseling journey can be uncovered by you and your counselor during the first few sessions.
Let’s get into just how much each factor affects the length of therapy. These numbers are generalized and average. What you experience may be different.
Your History & Experiences
If you’re seeking therapy to address recent issues such as...
A car accident
The death of a loved one
A loss of a job
A change in life situation
...you can expect therapy to last between one to six months. How often you attend sessions will be dependent on your experience and your therapist, but generally, people go to therapy once a week for the first month. After that, you may attend every other week.
If your therapy goals involve addressing childhood trauma, complex trauma, or long-term mental health issues it will take a longer time to resolve. When people have experienced trauma for a long time, it could take one or more years before people resolve it.
Long-term issues take a long time to resolve because part of the therapy process is growing trust between patient and therapist. You may also find that resolving one trauma may lead to unearthing another.
Some disorders take longer to treat. Remember that everyone experiences mental health issues differently. You are not alone, but your experiences are unique.
Maybe you’re seeking therapy because you don’t know what’s wrong. You don’t have a diagnosis, but you want to learn more and feel better. Your first two appointments with a psychiatrist or therapist will be used as a way to gauge where you’re at.
Issues like depression or anxiety can be diagnosed after one to two appointments, but for more complex issues they’ll prefer more time before making a diagnosis and moving on to treatment.
Almost 31% of adults in the U.S. will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. It’s an incredibly common disorder with an estimated 4% of the global population currently experiencing it.
Treatment for any anxiety disorder often involves both medication and therapy. The length of time therapy is typically between 15-30 sessions. This is somewhere between 3-6 months, but it can depend on your preferences and needs.
After 20 weeks patients may find their symptoms are easily managed, but they can choose to continue therapy. Many people prefer to stay in therapy long-term to feel more confident in managing their symptoms.
Depression is another common disorder that many will experience at some point and in some measure.
Whether or not medical attention is necessary is dependent on the severity and length of the depressive episode. A diagnosis of depression requires at least two weeks of persistent symptoms, but you can always seek help if you feel you need to.
Treating depression takes a bit less time than other disorders. Most patients begin to experience remission between 12-19 weeks.
For a long time, personality disorders were considered untreatable. Luckily, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was recently developed. DBT was created to treat borderline personality disorder, but it’s been proven effective in treating an incredible variety of personality, mood, and behavioral disorders.
Personality disorders warp people’s perspectives. They often don’t recognize there’s a problem with their behaviors, which can make counseling move a little slower than it would for other mental health issues.
DBT is just one of several methods that treat personality disorders. Treatments can last anywhere between months to years. Most individuals seeking treatment for a personality disorder will continue occasional check-ups with their therapist for the rest of their life.
Addiction changes the way your brain functions. Needless to say, it takes time for treatment to work.
There are many approaches to addiction treatment and each one has its merit.
Many people often start with inpatient or residential treatment. Common treatment plans include:
Inpatient long-term living
These act as a jumping-off point that kick-starts your recovery.
After one of these residential stays, it’s recommended you continue addiction counseling for an extended time. This doesn’t have to be intensive, but going in for check-ups increases your chance of staying sober.
The severity of your mental health issue will change the length of your treatment. Someone with high functioning anxiety will have a very different therapy regimen than someone with crippling depression.
Deep-rooted issues take a long time to get to the bottom of. There are no quick fixes, but with consistent counseling, you can find healing.
What you want out of therapy can affect how long it takes. Some goals are:
Learn and improve healthy coping skills
Create more positive behaviors
Understand the root of your emotions or behaviors
Each of these goals will require a different amount of time. It’s not possible to put several sessions for each of these goals as everyone is different and will bring various skills and histories to the table.
Type of Therapy
Some treatments are designed to last a specific number of sessions, whereas others are more free-flowing. Remember that all of this depends on several factors. You may get toward the end of therapy and then realize you need to circle back to address something else.
In addition to individual talk therapy, Inner Balance offers:
Gender affirming care
Each type of counseling is meant for a different demographic of clients, and can last as long or as short as our clients need.
Length of Group Therapy
Group therapy is a helpful tool that brings people together who share similar experiences. These groups work through common issues and goals.
Group therapy can last anywhere between two months to multiple years. An important part of group therapy is getting to know the other members and learning to trust them. That’s why it might take more time.
Couples counseling helps people in relationships communicate better and work through hardships with their partner.
There’s no way to know how long gender affirming care will last. Depending on your situation, it could be anywhere between months to years.
Our LGBTQIA+ Therapy team at Inner Balance Counseling is available to provide an affirmative approach to therapy and help you reach your therapy goals. Request a consultation to learn more.
General Mental Health Counseling
The length of general mental health counseling is dependent on your goals. Some people choose to focus on one problem, deal with it, and move on. However, having a working relationship with a counselor that continues for a long term can help maintain mental well-being.
Find Healing, At Your Own Pace
The time you spend in therapy is unique to you, and that’s the way it should be. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy, so take however long you need to feel confident in the changes you’re making.
Never feel bad for taking more time than average on your treatment, and work with your therapist to find a plan that works for you.
How to Know When You’re Done With Therapy
While some may need counseling for most of their lives, others will often “graduate” when they and their counselor feel confident in their treatment.
Consider your goals and what you want to accomplish. When you finish therapy, your mental health symptoms should have drastically improved. This can look like:
Recalling trauma without distress
Decreased anxiety while completing a task
A clearer understanding of self
Another sign that it’s time to end therapy is if you start to feel bored and sessions become more small talk than therapeutic. This could mean you’re ready to move on to a longer time between sessions. Or, this could mean it’s time to transition to a different therapist.
Reach Out to Inner Balance Today
Whatever your needs are, or however long you feel you need to work on your issues, our staff can help. Request a consultation and we’ll talk to you about your unique needs and what your journey may look like. The first step to feeling better is just to reach out.