How long does it take for life to change?

A bullets 8 blue flowers on blue aa-img027_crHow many sessions? What’s real in therapy

Brief therapy is cost-effective. Pivotal changes do not have to take long. Quite often, a process of deep and lasting change can be quickly initiated, and to get life flying sometimes takes  surprisingly few sessions. (I see some people for continuing therapy, see below.)

But of course there’s more to it than that. I want to advertise honestly. My aim is to present “hope without hype”, inspiration based on reality. Problems commonly make us feel trapped and hopeless, so inspiring means that people are often surprised that change can happen at all, let alone that is can happen quickly. Honesty means that the nature of human life is that that not everything is quick and easy. The reality of life is that healing of deep-seated trauma or childhood hurts unfolds and matures over a period of years, not weeks. However, you don’t need to be doing therapy all that time! Pivotal change in a given moment can be rapid, and takes a number of sessions as outlined below. Maybe that is all the therapy you ever want or need. Or possibly the healing takes root and life carries on changing until another, aspect of the problem become ready for healing. And then some more sessions will help to go to the next level.

This is true for all types of therapy. While some therapies are indeed more efficient than others for particular issues, no therapy whatever can change the fact that some issues and parts of an issue resolve quickly, others not.

I just want to be real; I hate the commercially-oriented therapy websites which hold out a false hope that, for example, “bulemia can be cured in one session” or “OCD doesn’t need more than three sessions.” Some bulemia, some OCD, yes indeed; but not most.

I certainly don’t intend to be discouraging – quite the opposite. By far the commonest feeling which people have is hopelessness, that nothing can happen, that nothing will work. This despairing “Radio Depression” is not real, and I don’t mean to imply that it is. It doesn’t take long at all for the points on a railway track to switch a train onto an entirely different path. Research shows that most commonly people see a therapist for between one and ten sessions at any one time. In that time, with the right therapy an enormous amount can be achieved. Every week I see people whose lives are changing dramatically after four or six sessions or so.

You should have a sense of real progress right from the beginning. It’s like driving a car; you feel the clutch engage immediately. Then, the acceleration depends on how heavy the load is in the back. You don’t have to wait session after session with nothing happening.

So – how many sessions?

On average, people see me for between five and ten sessions; it can be more, it can be less. I see some people for continuing therapy, normally at intervals of a month or six weeks. A good many people just come for two or three sessions. Habit eating might be four or six sessions, while mild to moderate eating disorders, along with marked depression or agoraphobia could well be 15 or 20 sessions or continuing therapy. This is in line with “what works best” research into various kinds of brief therapy. [If you have a severe eating disorder, you for sure need to be in the Bristol NHS STEPS programme. If you have severe depression, see the depression page for information of when anti-depressants may be indicated.]

Couples tend to come for three to six sessions. Again, it can be less or more, and a few couple come for continuing therapy over a longer period.

As I specialise in emotional issues I don’t see many people for, for example, simple phobias of cats or birds or things like that; these typically take one or two sessions, and fear of driving or flying three to five sessions. For some reason I’ve become an expert in smoking, never an issue I expected to specialise in. The way I do smoking it takes mostly two, sometimes three, sessions.

If you would like to begin a process of real change, give me a ring: Andrew White, 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490.

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