How long does it take for therapy to help?

Most people find some benefit from therapy after just a few sessions and many people feel some relief in the first session. For example, anxiety is relieved because therapy brings with it some hope and a better understanding of how things may change. The therapist may offer explanation or insight in that very first session that the client has been unable to understand on their own. However, for some people it takes longer to experience any benefits. So, it’s important to give some time to the therapy process.

Specific problems can often be resolved in a relatively brief number of sessions – even as few as two or three. But even if the problem isn’t resolved immediately, many people feel confident within a few sessions that changes have been made and they are making progress.

In some cases, the course of therapy will be longer. For example, people with very severe trauma histories can take a long time to feel the trust necessary to move forward with the painful work of dealing with their trauma and the problems it has caused them.

For others, benefits may continue to accrue after the initial problem is solved because they continue to experience new insights, better functioning and improved well being from continued therapy.

And finally, for people with serious mental illness, therapy can provide the regular support needed to maintain a satisfactory level of day-to-day functioning.

In most health settings, patients return to their health care professional at multiple times during their lifetime. Emotional and mental health is no different. It is okay to go back to your therapist at different points in your life for a booster session or additional course of treatment to help address other problems that have arisen. You don’t have to wait until you are in crisis.