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What is therapy, and how long does it take?


By: Kari Mika-Lude

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines therapy as “a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a [therapist]”.  Therapist is a general term used to describe professional counselors, psychologists, social workers, and even psychiatrists who provide therapy services.  Other terms, such as counseling and psychotherapy, are often used interchangeably and, for the most part, mean the same thing. 

To put it more simply, therapy is simply partnering with a professional to work through particular symptoms or stressors.  And I emphasize the word work because therapy can be tough!  The role of the therapist is to offer guidance, support, and encouragement through the use of evidence-based treatment strategies.  The therapist’s responsibility is to push clients to think for themselves, make their own choices, and work through their healing.  If the therapist does all the problem-solving, the client then becomes dependent on the therapist for answers and advice.  Not good!

That brings me to how long therapy takes.  Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that question.  The duration of therapy depends on a number of factors, including the severity of symptoms, the frequency of sessions, and how much work the client is willing to put into the process.  I often tell my clients that I, like any good therapist, is always working my way out of a job.  I say that because the most basic goal of therapy is to no longer need therapy.  However, the therapist can only do so much.  We’re not magicians or wizards (although that would be cool), and there is no magic wand.  The bottom line is that therapy takes time and effort.  The clients who get the most out of it are those who come in ready to participate in self-exploration, put in the work, and move toward change.  If that’s you, and you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me, call or text (304) 760-9945 or email info@aspire-counseling.org

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