How long do I have to do therapy before I feel better?

october calendar on wooden surface

A lot of great work has been done to address the stigma we might have grown up with about whether Black people should try therapy. But a kind of implicit criticism remains. It goes something like this:

“I guess I can see why its good to talk to someone…but you’re not gonna find me stuck on someone’s couch for 30 years still talking about my mother.”

I used to believe this. I don’t anymore, and I’d like to challenge you to stop saying it, even to yourself. First of all, it shows a misunderstanding of what therapy is. And second, it implies that therapy is a place for people who get tricked into wasting money. It betrays a fear that therapy will be an expensive, permanent commitment.

The reality is that different people have different goals for therapy and those goals determine how much time therapy will take. But most people feel immensely better after going to therapy for just a few months.

That’s because no one can listen to you like a therapist can. They can help you understand yourself. And once you have felt heard and understood, your own ability to shift energy into your future goals just grows and grows.

So why do some people stay in therapy longer than others? Goals and Preferences.

Goals: Using therapy to address one bad moment is different than needing therapy to adjust to a new born baby, which is still different than needing therapy to find your will to live. The thing that brings you in (and the thing that caused that thing will have an impact on how long it takes.

Preferences: Even though its emotionally taxing at times, people almost always like therapy once they find the right therapist for them. Someone who goes for a long time is finding value in learning more about themself. They haven’t just been “talking about their mom.”

So are you going to expect me to come see you for 30 years?

Nope! the great thing about preferences is I (and every other therapist out there) have preferences too! I prefer to spend most of our time and energy together working “feeling better” in body and mind. After you feel better, you might realize there’s other stuff you want to address, and we can do that together or find you an expert in that.

With EMDR Intensives, I work in intense, short bursts with you, 8 hours total, 6 of them over the course of the same week. This gives you time to get used to your new thoughts and feelings. Then I offer additional time to help you make meaning of that. So if you don’t know if you want to make a long-term commitment to therapy or if you just need some relief from what’s bothering you right now, we might be a good fit! I encourage you to keep an open mind to the process, and share that open mind with others, because everyone needs and prefers different things from therapy.

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