Are we there yet?
Many clients ask "How long does THIS take?" during a first session. If you have never seen a deer in headlights, ask me this question and you'll see the look...just maybe with added lash extensions. I imagine that this question comes from a place of distress and exhaustion, of being tired of dealing with the same thing and wanting relief from it. Probably also because you are going to need to budget time, energy and money to therapy so you want to know the end date. My response?: IT DEPENDS.
Therapy can't really be condensed into a one-size-fits-all-take-two-pills-and-call-me-in-the-morning process. Oftentimes, you have been dealing with symptoms or situations for a significant amount of time, much longer than you have been sitting across from me in my office. I may sometimes want to respond with "Girl, I dunno! How much time you got!?" but that probably won't behoove either of us. To help us both move closer to the answer, here are some possible things for you to consider:
1. Set short and long term goals. This can help you monitor your progress. Since therapy is a process, it can sometimes be hard to tell what movement you have made in your healing. Having some goals/ideas of what you would like to accomplish can help you identify your growth. Furthermore, this may give you an idea of "how long"...the further the distance, the longer the journey. I just made that up. #creative #thinkonyourfeet #analogyormetaphor
2. Ask your therapist for feedback. Since I am on the outside looking in, I often notice significant change that you may overlook or discount. If neither of us are noticing change, it may help us reevaluate our work together.
3. Commit to the work. You will get out as much as you put in. Sounds like a personal trainer, huh? If you go to therapy once a month and don't actively work on making change, it may be harder to achieve your goal. Also, the work we do in the room is only part of therapy; it is important for you to take what you are learning and apply it to your life as it occurs outside my office. Free tip: Apply this logic to all areas of your life.
4. Have realistic expectations. No matter how loudly and off-key I sing "Impossible" from Rodger's & Hammerstein's Cinderella, I cannot get a fairy godmother to appear and grant your wish. It means that therapy takes work from both of us and we have to both agree to that work. There is no magic wand, genie lamp, or special potion (I've looked, yall...). But, you can expect to learn new strategies to manage your symptoms, learn language to express your emotions, and gain increased insight into your decisions and relationships.
5. Trust the process. There is that psychobabble for ya! This is the truest thing I can give you in terms of advice about therapy. Once you find a good fit and develop a strong relationship with your therapist, the illusive therapeutic process begins. Therapy is a journey of self-discovery and the changes you make usually happen over time. It is not uncommon to begin noticing that you are thinking and acting differently. You also need time to try, evaluate and edit the new things you have learned. Rather than a huge clap of thunder to alert you to these changes, it may be more like a cool Spring breeze that you suddenly notice feeling (Not my best analogy, but the weather is changing...Suns out, buns...nevermind).
I may not be able to give you an answer that feels good, but I can tell you that "it will take time" and help you decide if you are ready to commit to that (FYI, it's ok if you are not ready!).