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How long does mental health therapy last?

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry

There are so many types of psychotherapy and so many different issues that people are dealing with, it's impossible to say how long therapy will or should last. What is more important to consider is what your goals are for therapy. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety and are looking for skills to help you cope and function better, therapy might be relatively short-term; the Clinic I work at, for example, provides a maximum of 12 sessions to help people with severe mental health problems to reach this goal.

Some people, however, are more concerned with resolving past conflicts, learning how to deal with specific situations in their lives, or even working through traumatic events. Once you can identify what you would like out of therapy, do some research: speak to your healthcare providers and see if they have therapists they would recommend, or if there is a specific type of therapy they think would be most effective for you. When you then contact the psythotherapists, you can inquire as to estimated length of treatment; but remember to cut us some slack - you're not a car that we can reliably predict will take one hour to change the tires on! As you go through therapy, sometimes unexpected, unresolved issues can arise, which might prolong your treatment.

The main thing to remember is, have patience. This is your emotional and mental health we're talking about, and you need to treat it as it is: precious.

The length of mental health therapy depends on several factors. These include the severity and the type of mental disorder, the stress that you experience at any given time, and the social support that you command. Mental health therapy is generally a combination of drug therapy and psychotherapy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.