I have had so many people come in seeking treatment for long standing depression and anxiety. For years of complex trauma and abuse histories. For lifetimes of internalizing messages that they aren't good enough, or worthy of love, or capable of achieving their goals in life, or meeting their own needs. And time and time again, people want to know how long it will take. How long until they are better.
This question is difficult to answer for a multitude of reasons, yet I can understand a person's desire to be rid of their suffering and their emotional demons after spending countless hours battling them. In the age of insurance, these companies expect individuals to magically be "cured" within an 8-12 session window, and that is if the company is gracious enough to not require preauthorization or have other session limits. But I ask you- if a person has lived the past 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years in abusive, toxic, maladaptive environments, what are the odds that this individual will see true, lasting change within one to three month's time (that which would correspond to the 8-12 session time frame)?
Don't get me wrong- I am not someone who tries to keep clients in counseling for years and years, particularly if I find that someone appears to be stuck or not making further progress. My hope is that an individual will see change and notice palpable, measurable improvements in terms of symptom remission and enhanced quality of life within an acceptable timeframe. However, I do not ascribe to a brief treatment model like one that is practiced in modern college counseling centers or expected by the age of managed healthcare and insurance dictated treatment. If you have been dealing with a lifetime of suffering, then healing is not something to be expected in 3, 5, or 10 sessions. In my opinion, this would be similar to expecting someone who just experienced the death of a spouse of 30 years to simply get over their grief in less than 1 year. It's NOT going to happen. To be clear, while I don't expect people to be healed within 6 to 8 weeks for something that has been problematic for years to decades, my hope is that we will get you there sooner rather than later, and that you will find relief in that 8-12 session window, but I do not ascribe to a "cure" mentality in that timeframe.
True lasting change takes time, effort, patience, hope, trust, and relationship building. Just as I have to do the work to determine what is best for each client, each client has to put in the work and time necessary to unlearn what is no longer adaptive, and to finally learn and begin to practice what is adaptive. Hope, trust, and patience are many times hard to have after years of sifting through countless treatment centers and medications and therapists. But these are the essential pieces for anyone looking to finally discover what it truly means to walk the journey they were truly meant to walk in this life. I know this is a huge request for me to make for many of my clients, asking them to trust me and remain hopeful. But that's the biggest piece aside from also having patience. Patience in themselves. Patience in the process. And patience for the time it will most certainly take. No one becomes themselves overnight. You become yourself over the course of a lifetime, and you must decide when you are ready to start that journey because no one else can or will do it for you.