How to: Graduate from Therapy
I get asked all the time about how long someone is going to be in therapy. It's the "how long is this going to take" question. It certainly is an interesting one and, when I tell people that my clients graduate from therapy", some even act surprised.
So the real question is this: Is therapy supposed to be a lifelong thing or is there a way to be in therapy for some time and then not need it anymore?
One of the great things about the work I do with people experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression, is that it ebbs and flows. The couples I see often come for shorter term therapy because they want to be laser focused on communication, parenting, figuring out if staying in the relationship is what they want, etc. With that, I can (and do) teach tangible skills to my clients about how to deal with things when they're not so great. What we also work on are building skills to maintain what is going well so that when things are beginning to not be so great, we can work on not going down the slippery slope.
What that means is that we have to work hard and pay attention to some things that we might now even think matter. But, once we start paying attention, we use the skills from therapy and things often fall into place. Sounds easy, right?
I can't sit here and tell you that therapy is easy. Having been in therapy myself, I know for a fact, it can be hard. Really hard. But I also know from personal experience and from being in my position now as a therapist, that the hard work pays off.
So, back to the initial question. Some people set a goal to work on problem X and graduate out of therapy when that problem is resolved to their satisfaction AND they feel like they have the tools to prevent the problem from impacting their life in the way it had before they started therapy. Other people decide to work on additional things - stressors, anxious moments, times when they feel down, communication challenges - when they're done working on problem X. And that's OK too.
The short answer is this: our clients do graduate from therapy when they are ready to. We're here for every one of our clients for the short term and long haul. We also are here for our clients who have previously graduated from therapy and have new things come up that they want to explore, problem, solve, and have more insight about.
We may not have a crystal ball to pinpoint exact amounts of time. But we can give you some guidance as to what it might take once we get to know more about your unique situation and your goals. Contact our office if you want to talk more about how therapy might help you with anxiety, stress, worry, and feelings of disconnect.