Curious About Therapy? Find Some Smart Answers Here

Smart, Successful People

People so often worry that coming in for therapy means that they are weak, defective, or just plain crazy.  Quite the opposite!  Smart, successful people get help when they need it.  If you can’t see clearly, you go to an optometrist.  If you have a cavity, you go to the dentist.  If you’re having trouble coping with life, you see a psychologist or psychotherapist. Have you ever felt intimidated, worried that you might be misjudged and stuck on a couch for years like in the movies? Well, that’s inaccurate—you get to choose your therapy terms—but you’re not alone in your thoughts! Smart, successful people think this way: “What might best suite my needs?” Today, I offer explanations for this exact question.

Long Term Therapy

The question for smart, successful people becomes,“What type of support do I need?” In a previous blog I pointed out that therapy is an endeavor that requires time and commitment.  I often find that people are surprised when they learn that individual therapy could take a year or more to change deeply rooted patterns of thinking or behaving, or to recover from the effects of traumatic experiences.  Weighed against the years that it took to develop those patterns or deal with those experiences, a year or two or three to recover is relatively quick.   However, there are times when long-term therapy is not necessary or when it is not possible.  These are times when a short-term approach is warranted. Let’s explore situations where short-term therapy is more appropriate than long-term therapy.

Short-Term Therapy

Short-term therapy is exactly what it sounds like, short.  In this case, the word “short” is relative to long-term therapy, which is typically a year or more of weekly sessions.  In short-term therapy a client engages in a limited number of sessions that may range from 10 to 24 sessions and often lasts 6 months or less.  However, there are no hard and fast rules about the number of sessions that constitutes short-term work.   What is important to know is when short-term therapy can be helpful. In general, short-term therapy works best during times of change.

It is widely known that as human beings, we struggle with change.  Even positive changes cause stress.   All it takes is a wedding, the birth of a child, or a promotion to tip the balance from doing well to feeling overwhelmed.  Especially challenging can be difficult situations where the outcome is unknown.  The diagnosis of a loved one with a life-changing illness or the buy-out of your employer are just two examples.    Having some assistance during periods of transition can benefit even the most well-balanced among us.

Short-term therapy can also be helpful when people want to create change in their life, like finding a new job, changing careers, parenting differently, healing from addiction, and starting or ending a relationship.  Making changes in life means swimming against the tide of habit, old ways of thinking, and old ways of seeing yourself. It is always helpful to have a therapist who can act as a guide, a cheerleader, and an accountability partner in making these changes.


There’s an even shorter option than short-term therapy – consultation.  Consultation can be helpful to get the opinion of a psychologist or therapist about an issue without entering into an on-going therapeutic relationship.   Consultation may range from one to three sessions and typically involves psychoeducation and discussion about a particular issue or situation that is impacting one’s life.

The psychologist or therapist can provide specific information about a situation to help clarify the issues involved and illuminate a course of action.  Examples may include: understanding a loved one’s mental health diagnosis, becoming a step-parent, or working with a difficult co-worker.  People often benefit from the trained, objective input of a professional to help them move forward in a healthy direction.  If short-term or long-term therapy would be beneficial in this situation, the therapist can explain how that would help and what that might entail.

A Note About EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR is a therapeutic approach used to treat trauma and may fall under short-term or long-term therapy.  This approach is known to reduce the amount of time people spend in therapy and to help them heal more completely no matter what the time frame.  As a psychologist who uses EMDR, I am always amazed to see the healing that can take place in relatively short period of time.  To determine whether long-term therapy, short-term therapy, or consultation is right for you, contact us at St. Raphael Counseling—smart, successful people just like you take that step every day!

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