Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as talk therapy, is a broad term for treating mental health issues by meeting with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health specialist and hashing out problems verbally. Most sessions occur in a doctor or therapist’s office, and patients often wonder how long therapy will last.
During the sessions, the goal is simple: learn about your diagnosis and your moods, feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Ideally, talk therapy will help you gain control of your life in a meaningful and productive manner.
Is One Kind Better Than Another?
There are many kinds of psychotherapy to consider. The success or failure of psychotherapy depends on many factors, with each type geared toward a specific diagnosis or symptoms. Types of therapy you and your healthcare provider may discuss include:
- Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic methodologies. This zeroes in on altering problematic behaviors, feelings, and thoughts by discovering unconscious meanings and driving factors.
- Behavior therapy focuses on learning’s role in developing normal and abnormal behaviors.
- Cognitive therapy highlights what someone thinks instead of what that person does.
- Many therapists don’t align themselves to a single approach. Instead, they blend elements from various psychotherapies and design their treatment plan based on each person’s needs – an approach called integrative or holistic therapy.
How Many People Use Psychotherapy?
Mental health issues are a growing problem in America, making the availability of psychotherapy even more critical. According to a 2019 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 19.2% of adults received different kinds of mental health treatment in the past year.
- 9.5% of adults got counseling or therapy through a mental health professional.
- “Women were more likely than men to have received mental health treatment.”
- A larger percentage of non-Hispanic white adults (23.0%) compared to non-Hispanic black (13.6%) adults and adults of Hispanic heritage (12.9%) received mental health treatment in 2018.
Psychotherapy and Its Long-Term Goals
Psychotherapy is a sensitive topic for millions of American adults, mostly because of the long-running stigma linked to mental illness and problems which arise for people embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid of getting the help they deserve and need. However, when someone gets treatment, questions invariably arise as to how long therapy is needed.
How long does psychotherapy last?
There is no fixed answer as to therapy duration. How long therapy will last for treating psychiatric issues varies from one person to the next. The therapy options and duration need to be matched appropriately based on the nature and severity of the patient’s symptoms. Acute problems normally call for fewer treatment sessions than chronic conditions. Furthermore, how long treatment is needed also depends on the kind of treatment provided, with cognitive-behavioral treatments – focusing on a specific problem – generally shorter in duration than other psychotherapies, focusing on a broader range of topics.
What conditions can it treat?
Regardless of duration, psychotherapy is often the go-to option for treating a wide range of mental health and, in some cases, physical pain conditions with psychological components. The goal of therapy sessions is to uncover the root of the problem, help the patient recognize what’s happening, and instill coping mechanisms to allow that person to live a healthy, productive life. Psychotherapy may help relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, irrational fears, and others warning signs and help the patient understand the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors affected by their illness and how to overcome issues that interfere with their quality of life.
Psychotherapy may help relieve symptoms linked to:
- Mood disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Chronic pain
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- And many kinds of depression
Positive outcomes and their influencers
According to some studies, psychotherapy – short-term or ongoing, and combined with other treatments like ketamine assisted therapy – may have more positive, long-lasting outcomes depending on several factors, including:
- The therapeutic alliance and partnership between patient and therapist. Most positive outcomes in this regard are influenced by the patient’s trust and comfort level and the therapist’s empathy, respect, and warmth toward the person needing help. Collaboration is critical.
- The therapist’s ability to establish rapport with the patient.
- Experience of the therapist. If your therapist has little to no experience dealing with your diagnosis, positive outcomes are less likely.
- Therapeutic modality and how the design and strength of certain treatment methods are utilized.
- The person’s motivation, personality, and symptoms.