Therapy doesn’t need to be an arduous never-ending process; however, the length of therapy depends on many factors. Most people imagine therapy where the client lies on a couch, and the therapist asks “how does that make you feel,” as the client rambles on until they eventually have a magical life-changing epiphany. Although television tends to portray therapy as a very passive process, therapy is a lot of work and this is important to keep in mind before starting. It’s imperative to understand this so that you can set realistic expectations for yourself. Your engagement in therapy and the strength of your beliefs play a big role in how long the process will take. The therapeutic style of the clinician is another key factor in its duration. Some therapies are short-term in nature and other more insight-driven therapies are catered toward the long haul.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) are evidence-based therapies that are short-term in nature. We’ll just call them REBT for short. The job of an REBT therapist is to put themselves out of a job. REBT sessions are very structured and psychoeducational. They guide you to understand your unconscious irrational beliefs, challenge them, and replace them with healthier beliefs and behaviors. Once you have mastered these skills and achieve your goals, therapy has been completed. Yes – there’s an end date to therapy! The objective of therapy isn’t for you and the therapist to grow old together, but rather to have structured sessions with homework in between to help you obtain and get the hang of all the skills you need to be successful.
Therapy requires a lot of commitment and effort to make it work. Many people view therapy as a club where they get a membership, and just pop in here and there as a problem arises, or whenever they get a free minute. This will rarely create lasting change. Although this infrequent cadence can be a helpful approach for those who have already mastered many of the foundational REBT skills, it rarely works for beginners. It’s kind of like signing up for a gym membership and going once in a blue moon. Do you think you’ll achieve your fitness goals this way? Remember there’s a difference between feeling better and getting better. Friends help you feel better – REBT therapists help get you better! What you put in is what you get out. Although everyone’s different, if you commit to the therapeutic process by coming regularly (at least weekly), actively participate, and consistently complete your therapy homework, expect four months to a year of treatment. Please keep in mind that everyone is different and don’t expect this to be how long it’ll take you. Just use this as a ballpark idea of what to work towards when starting your new transformative therapy journey.