Every month, I want to share a bit of the "blue print" that I use with individuals, couples and families.
One of the more frequent questions I hear from new clients is, “How long do you think therapy will last?” I think this is a perfectly legitimate question: you’re investing a great deal of time, money, energy and effort into this process and (let’s be honest) therapy isn’t meant to last for the rest of your life.
When I respond to this question, I usually say, “Well, that depends; everyone’s process is different.” I know, how cliché. However, that is the most honest, realistic answer I can give. The truth is, we all have different backgrounds, life experiences, desires and defenses, and these will all come into play during your therapy process.
When I respond to this question, I usually say, “Well, that depends; everyone’s process is different.” I know, how cliché. However, that is the most honest, realistic answer I can give.
While I can’t say exactly how long your therapy process will last, I can tell you about some different factors that may affect your therapy timeline:
- Trauma. It seems like this word gets thrown around a lot these days, but we cannot underestimate the impact of traumatic experiences upon our lives. If we experience any kind of trauma, we are changed: how we think, how we see ourselves, how we relate to others, how we exist in the world. Trauma requires extra care and consideration within the therapy process.
- Physical, developmental or chemical needs. We are complex beings, and some of us face specific challenges: developmental delays, sensory integration issues, clinical depression/anxiety, ADHD, and a host of others. And we are also complex because our physical, mental and emotional realities affect one another, and they affect those around us. We don’t do therapy in a vacuum; these are all pieces that make up the therapy puzzle.
- Defenses. We’ve all learned and developed some rather exquisite ways of dealing with uncomfortable feelings, relationships and situations. However, these defenses can also get in the way of the therapy process. If you are accustomed to avoiding your feelings at all costs, and then you enter a therapy process where you are specifically processing your feelings, I’m guessing the therapy journey may be a bit longer than you may think.
- The unexpected. I’ve worked with many clients where therapy is going along smoothly and then wham: life happens unexpectedly and throws some nasty curveballs.
- Therapist-client relationship. As a therapist, if I notice that therapy seems to be moving at a slower-than-usual pace, I always consider my relationship with the client. Does the client seem to trust me? Could there be something that was said/done that negatively affected the client’s experience of me? And most often, I will check with the client about these very questions. If you do not feel safe with your therapist, I guarantee this process will move along at a snail’s pace.
Next time, we’ll look at what steps you can take to get the most out of your therapy process.
More to come,