When is it Time for Therapy?

By Jenn Kennedy, MA
In Therapy
Mar 31st, 2015
701 Views

IMG_4449In California, going to therapy seems to be as common as going to yoga. Executives all the way down to the interns mention their therapists in casual conversation in the break room. Who really needs therapy? And for how long? Can it be short term, as you are going through someone particularly difficult, or is it a lifelong pursuit (like yoga) that makes you ever more evolved?

People come to therapy for so many different reasons: break ups, anxiety, parenting challenges, lackluster dating, substance abuse, or depression that doesn’t depart. And so the answers of when, who, how and why vary greatly.

Who: The unit of treatment can be individuals, couples, even parts or entire families. Sometimes partners, parents of children will even come in for a guest session to help fill in the picture of the client’s world. Consider who is contributing to or affected by “the problem.” That’s is who ideally should be in the room, however it’s sometimes not feasible. Sometimes the others don’t want to come or simply can’t. And so we work with whomever we have. Also, sometimes you might just need your own time with the therapist—without having to negotiate or share it with your spouse, kids or challenging other.

What: Most clients come for 50-minute, weekly sessions. Therapy tends to be most effective when there is continuity. Some clients come for more brief therapy—which consists of 6-8 sessions, while most stay much longer. Some people come from 6 months to several years and work on various issues as they go. The goals of therapy are established early on between you and the therapist. That helps everyone know if the work is progressing in a desired way and when it’s finished.

When: Clients typically seek therapy when what they are doing just isn’t working. They have given it their best effort, but they aren’t seeing the results they want. It might be in their job, marriage, friendships— or even their struggle with food, sex or alcohol. It is then that they consider opening up the conversation to include a therapist who might help them find another way to see things. The old adage is that “Clients want things to be different, they just don’t want to change.” Well, get ready, because for your life to shift in the way you want, you will likely have to be willing to try moving through the world in a new way.

How: A good therapist won’t give you “the answers.” Rather, they will help you unravel the ball of confusion, indecision and difficulty that you walked in holding. They will assist you as you navigate new ideas and try on alternate ways of being. They might reflect patterns that have surfaced through your telling of the past and present challenges, however, ultimately your decisions have to be yours to make. A good therapist will support your self-determination and leave you feeling more seen and understood.

Ultimately, therapy is what you make of it. Honestly opening up and looking at the more challenging parts of your life or yourself can alleviate so much suffering. Call for a free consultation: 805-699-6834.

About "" Has 5 Posts

Jenn Kennedy holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology. She trained at Community Counseling and Education Center (CCEC) and Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) in Santa Barbara. Previously Jenn worked as a journalist and marketing executive in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.