How Long Does Therapy Take?

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Published Date|
February 13, 2024

How Long Does Therapy Take?

Therapy is a big investment of your money, energy, and time - so how can you know exactly how much time you’ll be spending in your therapist’s office?

Here at KMA Therapy, we know you want all the information possible before making a decision that has such a big impact on your life. We’re here to give you honest answers about the therapy process, including how long therapy really takes.

After reading this article, you’ll know what factors influence the length of therapy, how to know when you’re done therapy, and what to do if you can only afford to attend a couple therapy sessions.

How Long Does Therapy Take?

The honest answer is that therapy can last anywhere from two weeks to two years (and sometimes longer!) - which can be frustrating to hear.

The length of time you’re in therapy will depend on a variety of factors and varies from person to person, and will also depend on the issues you’re facing.

how long does therapy take

For issues like anxiety and depression, therapy clients often start to feel better after attending therapy for one to three months.

If you’re dealing with more complex issues or you want to talk in-depth about past experiences, therapy can often take longer.

The duration of therapy may also change depending on what comes up in your sessions - you might think you only need a few sessions, but discover an underlying problem that makes you want to stay in therapy longer.

It’s okay for therapy to take longer or shorter than you expect - the important thing is to keep an open dialogue with your therapist about how long you expect to be in therapy and how you feel about the progress you’re making toward your goals.

What Factors Influence How Long I’ll Be in Therapy For?

There are many different things that can influence how long you’ll be in therapy for, from the issues you’re facing to how you respond to therapy.

Factors influencing the length of time you’re in therapy include:

  • What you want to address in therapy
  • The type of therapy you’re interested in
  • What types of issues you’re experiencing
  • If you’re dealing with multiple mental health challenges at once
  • Whether additional life changes or stressors come up while you’re in therapy

Again, it’ll all come down to your individual situation. Generally, issues like grief after loss, coping with work-related stress, and navigating life transitions (like divorce or retirement) can often have a lot of improvement in a shorter period of time.

Issues like anxiety disorders, complex grief, and recent and childhood trauma can take longer to treat in therapy.

How Long Until I See Results in Therapy?

You can start seeing positive changes even after your first session - meeting with a therapist can feel empowering, and they will often offer tools and perspective changes that help you to feel better about your situation right away.

Still, therapy isn’t a “quick fix” - to see real results and achieve your goals in therapy, it’ll often take longer than just one session.

On average, some therapists see six weeks as a good benchmark for seeing meaningful results in therapy.

Ultimately, the best way to know how long therapy will take for you is to meet with a therapist to talk about the specific circumstances you’re facing, the issues you want help with, and the goals you want to achieve in therapy.

What Happens if I Can Only Afford a Few Therapy Sessions?

If you can only afford a few therapy sessions, your therapist can often work with you to find a short-term treatment plan.

You can often see some progress and learn new coping skills in just a few sessions, and treatment options like intensive cognitive behavioural therapy can often help you see results in a short time period.

Still, if you have a limited budget for therapy, it’s important to consider which therapist you see and how much their sessions cost.

There are many lower-cost therapy options available - they just sometimes take a bit longer to find.

Look for therapy clinics that offer:

  • Sliding-scale therapy fees
  • Low-cost sessions with supervised therapy students
  • Free consultations to ensure you’re meeting with the right therapist before spending part of your budget

When choosing a therapist, be open and honest about your budget and see what they can offer you within your price range.

How Will I Know When I’m Ready to End Therapy?

You’ll know you’re ready to end therapy when you and your therapist agree that you’ve met your therapy goals.

When you’re ready to end therapy, you’ll likely feel:

  • Able to manage your mental health symptoms
  • Confident in your ability to face future challenges
  • Equipped with skills and coping mechanisms to support yourself

Even after you’re “done” with therapy, you might not feel ready to never see your therapist again. Many people may choose to slow down the frequency of their therapy sessions before stopping completely - seeing your therapist once every few months or even once a year to check-in is always an option!

Regardless of whether you want to go back to therapy later in life or you feel like going once was enough for you, the end of therapy should feel empowering and leave you with the confidence to navigate life’s challenges going forward.

Next Steps for Beginning Therapy

After reading this article, you know how long you can expect to be in therapy for and how to know when you’re ready to move on from therapy.

The KMA Therapy team is here to answer all of your questions and make sure you get the best therapy plan for you - for over 15 years, we’ve helped our clients learn the truth about the therapy process and created treatment plans that work for them.

Register online for more information or download our Therapy 101 Guide to learn more.

If you’d prefer to keep reading, explore these articles we’ve chosen for you:

Author |
Emily Weatherhead (Guest Author)
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