Psychotherapy has become a well-known way to improve one’s mental health. Various forms of therapy offer different advantages and drawbacks. Therefore, you should consider several key aspects before deciding which therapy is right for you. Do you want to engage in a type of short-term or long-term psychotherapy?
First, let’s discuss psychotherapy….
Psychotherapy is a psychological intervention used to help individuals struggling with different types of mental health difficulties. Client and therapist work together with strong communication and a good rapport. This basis of psychotherapy allows us to better understand the client’s issues. Over time, the client starts to clearly understand their own defence mechanisms, relationships, fears and worries, both past and present. Consequently, the client finds ways to cope with them and approach them moving forward.
Psychotherapy can be offered as a standalone treatment, or in addition to other forms of treatment, such as medication. As with any form of therapy, it is recommended to first consult your therapist. Together, you can decide on a therapeutic treatment option and whether long or short-term psychotherapy is a better option for you.
Long-term Psychotherapy Options
Long-term psychotherapy is generally offered as a long-term form of mental health support. Generally, patients come in to see their therapist for multiple sessions a week, sometimes continuing for years. One benefit of long-term therapy is that the patient and therapist can take their time to unpack deep-rooted issues raising from generally traumatic events. These may have negative effects on how the client behaves and perceives themselves and the world around them. Clients often want to rid themselves of the adverse symptoms as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, sometimes it can take months and even years to replace unhelpful schemas and thinking patterns that cause the adverse symptoms. For these cases, there is long-term therapy.
Long-term psychotherapy options include the following:
Dr Sigmund Freud invented one of the earliest forms of psychotherapy – psychoanalysis. He sought to uncover the mechanisms behind patients’ seemingly illogical responses. Psychoanalysis is one of the more intense forms of therapy. It attempts to look at your early childhood experiences to see if they have had a particular impact on your life or current worries. That’s why it can go on for years, or even indefinitely. Sessions vary depending on why you are seeking therapy.
Still, one thing is the same for all of them: They aim to assist you to start changing through the understanding of your past and how early life events may be affecting you. Furthermore, they provide a non-judgemental, safe space where you can speak freely with your therapist. For certain patients, psychoanalysis can be too exhausting and adverse. Then, it may even cause an unravelling effect when clients reach a traumatic event in their past. For this reason, patients with active psychosis are usually not referred to psychoanalysis. On the other hand, its in-depth approach has been found to be effective with more complex mental health disorders, particularly personality disorders. Psychoanalysis can also help in chronic cases of depression or anxiety. Main condition is that the patient has the time and financial ability to deep-dive into their symptoms, to gain clarity on what is causing them.
Less intense than psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy still offers long-term support. It typically lasts a least a few months, as the therapist and client learn to build a bond of trust and aim to bring the unconscious mind to the surface. This form of therapy helps you to understand your deep-rooted feelings in order to resolve them. It looks to uncover painful feelings and/or memories. It is generally thought to be more effective in treating specific issues such as depression, anxiety or addiction. Further, it can be beneficial if you feel like your life may have lost meaning, or you have trouble maintaining or forming personal relationships.
Short-Term Psychotherapy Options
Short-term psychotherapy, also known as brief therapy or time-limited therapy, is typically more goal-oriented than long-term therapy. This option tends to focus on specific challenges and issues that are causing clients distress at present. Short-term psychotherapies usually work with a distinct goal in mind. For example, focusing on the client’s repetitive negative cognitions. Often having a tighter focus than long-term therapy, short-term therapy can last from six to twelve sessions. One of the main advantages of short-term therapy is that it helps the client face any avoidance tendencies they might have. Long-term settings could allow clients to put off dealing with distressing aspects of their life. The limited time frame of short-term therapy can push patients toward acknowledging their fears and issues.
Short-term treatment types include the following:
Cognitive Behavioural Treatment (CBT)
A popular short-term therapy is CB. It attempts to help you recognise how your thoughts can affect your feelings, emotions and behaviour. Examining your thoughts and behaviours, CBT tries to break overwhelming problems and issues down into smaller, more manageable parts. Then, you can work towards changing them in the present. CBT involves getting tasks and homework assigned to you. These help you practise techniques at home and train you better cope with your problems once you finished the therapy. CBT is generally 7 to 10 sessions long and is effective in group therapy settings as well.
Dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT)
A short-term therapy that looks at the way your relationships and the way you relate to others, and how this affects the way you see yourself. DIT can help you with finding new ways to relate with others and new patterns that can lead to seeing yourself in a more positive light. DIT encourages you to look into your past to discover traumatic experiences and relationships that may affect the way you feel and behave in the present. This approach can last up to 16 sessions and is usually 50-60 mins long.
Short-Term Psychodynamic therapy. As opposed to classic psychodynamic therapy, which offers a longer, contemplative approach to the client’s life, short-term psychodynamics focuses on more specific experiences. These include examples such as clients’ defence mechanisms and relationships. By turning clients’ attention to certain areas of their life, short-term psychodynamics attempts to help the clients recognise which of their patterns of behaviour are no longer adaptive, and where they might benefit from trying out new ways to react to their internal and external world. Short-term psychodynamic therapy is generally restricted to 40 sessions.