When is the best time to have therapy? Which is the best style of therapy? How long does it take? These are questions that many people ask before they embark on an inner exploration.
Which therapy should I choose?
There has been a lot of research into how therapy works. The kinds of therapies that can be manualised, or put into an instruction book that any therapist can follow, can also be researched easily and compared to each other. The best are known as ‘evidence-based’ therapies, recommended by governments and psychological societies.
The fact is that, over and over again, research shows that all therapy works.
The benefits of making a human sculpture of your feelings; creating artwork to show your story, or putting figurines in a sand tray tableau sometimes can be greater than seeing an ‘evidence based’ therapist.
The single most important aspect of any therapeutic exchange is the relationship between you and your therapist. If you feel heard and understood, things start to change.
So the therapy you feel drawn to is the one you should try.
When should I go to therapy?
Many people seek help when they are dealing with a breakup, a death, or a change of circumstances like the loss of a job. However sometimes the inner discomfort we call anxiety just becomes too strong to manage in day-to-day life. Sometimes we become aware that our relationships aren’t as good as they could be, or we’re not as happy as we’d like to be.
A good therapeutic relationship does not mean a friendship. It means a space where you feel safe and understood and you can start to evolve. Contrary to popular belief, the therapist does not change you. You change yourself, with the right conditions. So if you find yourself with a therapist that doesn’t care about your inner world – move on. You’ll find someone else, and there is no obligation to continue seeing someone who is not the right fit.
How long will it take?
This, unfortunately, is the ultimate ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. Your therapist may, after an initial consultation, be able to tell you roughly how many sessions he or she thinks you will need to get the change you want to see. However there is no set amount of sessions. Many people will suggest that you consider six to 12 sessions as the initial investment to see some real and lasting change. Therapists who specialise in brief or solution-focused therapies may help you in less. Sometimes you can talk to someone once and experience a profound shift. Or embark on a journey of years, into the heart of your true self.
Helen Wayland is a clinical hypnotherapist, personal counsellor and EMDR therapist working in St. Kilda, Melbourne.