Therapy is a service provided by a mental health professional for you – a service you could choose to begin, slow down or terminate whenever you wish to. Making the decision to start therapy can be difficult, and its also difficult to come to is an exact number of sessions (and related costs), especially before the first session has even begun. Many a time, the client may seek some relief from the uncertainty related to these questions by thinking about what they are really concerned about when they ask this question. For instance, starting with therapy may be attached to a sense of anxiety due to wanting to make the ‘right’ decisions related to concerns like affordability, accessibility, and finding a good ‘fit’ within your therapist. Going to a therapist may also be attached to a sense of stigma, wherein associations made between needing help and being perceived as such by family members, employers or others, or between self and labels such as ‘crazy’, ‘paagal’, etc. may be a cause for worry for the person seeking help. Some times, if a client is feeling their distress acutely, or is dealing with seemingly chronic (long-term) issues, they may simply wish to get ‘rid’ of what’s bothering them and ask this question in the hope that maybe therapy might help them do so.
For most issues, realistically, there may not be anything that amounts to a ‘solution’ or a ‘quick fix’. However, if you feel your felt distress is interfering with your ability to function on a daily basis, you could choose to visit a psychiatrist or general physician alongside a psychologist. While the former could prescribe medications that help manage symptoms more immediately, the latter could in the meantime help you deal with thoughts, emotions and behaviours that relate most directly to the start and/or maintenance of your distress.
The length of a therapeutic relationship, aside from your concerns, can also depend upon the approach practiced by your therapist. Some approaches (such as SST, REBT, SFBT, etc.) allow for more brief interactions (that is, less 6-8 sessions), while in others, therapy may go on for months or years.
In my experience, it is still possible to be brief about your therapy work, if you have a specific concern (what you’re seeking therapy for) and goal (what you wish to work towards). But for many people, what they’re struggling with is often a mixed bag of concerns that may need some sorting through to understand what it is that they wish to deal with first; or we may realize sometime into therapy, that a previously chosen concern may actually be stemming from another, possibly deeper space that might need to be explored first.
We can surmise from recounting these experiences is that the path to recovery may not be a linear one, and we’re likely to feel a bit bogged down if we aren’t at a place we thought we would be, at a given time. The meaning of recovery can further be personal and hence subjective. What therapy may* then provide, is a space to talk freely about your expectations, to learn to adjust them as and when required, and then work on strategies to help fulfill them the way you wish to.
*When it comes to providing an understanding of therapy and how it applies to you, you will find us using the words ‘may’ and ‘could’ a lot. We do so for a reason: our articles are for informational purposes only, and are in no way meant as a substitute for an actual therapy session. We would like them to provide basic guidance to someone who wishes to understand how therapy generally works, from our own understanding, which may to a certain extent be dependent on the therapeutic approach we tend to follow. For the most optimum understanding of how therapy could work for you, we suggest you to book a session with a professional.
This article includes opinions expressed by a mental health expert. But we were humans long before we trained as professionals, and so are always looking to learn better! If you found that any of the above is inaccurate, irrelevant or unhelpful, or would like to suggest ways to make this article more helpful in any way, please let us know in the comments below.
Read the article, and wondering what’s next ?
- I want to take action now: If reading the above information has led you to decide that what you need is professional help, here’s a little bit about how our professionals work in case you would like to schedule a free consultation with us: our professionals’ work is based on a ‘recovery-oriented’ model, which believes in providing a space where each individual feels in charge of their own meaning of recovery from mental health concerns/illness. The aim of support isn’t just to reduce symptoms or to go back to the level of functioning that was, but rather to learn to emphasize one’s resilience and to hold space for those in distress as one is attempting to achieve short- and long-term recovery/life goals
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- I want more help about how to broach the topic of my mental health with friend/loved one as/before I book a session