Couples

How Long Does Therapy Last?

This is a recurring question at every one of my workshops, presentations and intro sessions.

And the answer is - it depends. It depends on what you’re seeking therapy for, how long you’ve waited to seek treatment, the approach of the therapist you choose and how much and how hard you are willing to work. It also depends on you level of self-awareness. So really the length of therapy depends on you, the client.

I believe in shorter-term therapy, a few months to a few years (max). I would never kick a client out of therapy but I would definitely wonder if I were doing my job to the best of my ability and if I was the right therapist for you if you saw me weekly for the exact same struggle for 2+ years and nothing had changed. That’s not to say that people can’t and don’t struggle with the same issue for more than two years (that’s actually quite common) but I strongly believe that there should be some forward movement, some change, no mater how small.

I tell my clients that my job is to put myself out of business. My job is to empower you and to provide you with the right skills, tools and techniques so that you can achieve your goals and be in control of your own life.

Therapy with me starts with 50 minutes once a week until you feel like you have a better handle on whatever it is we’re working on. Then we start to space things out to every other week and then to once a month until you are ready and can say, “Minal, I feel great. I know how to find you if I need to and I think I’m ready to end therapy.” Those words are music to my ears. We then assess where you are in relation to your goals, what you’ve accomplished and we schedule our final session. Final sessions are so bittersweet.

I don’t believe in therapy for years upon years (I’m not an analyst) and I don’t believe in keeping you in therapy once you’ve achieved your goals just so that I can have a full caseload or so that I can pay my bills. Therapy is for you. And once you’ve decided that you got what you came for, then we’re done, at least for now. My door is always open and you can certainly always come back.

So, if therapy starts and ends when you're ready, the next questions is what's stopping you from being ready? (Click here to schedule your free intro session now!)

 

What is Therapy?

During my WeWork Workshop last week on “How to Manage Anxiety in the Workplace,” one of the attendees asked a wonderful question. “What exactly is therapy?” He was slightly embarrassed for not knowing the answer and excused his “ignorance” as he called it, but truthfully I thought the question was brilliant and a great reminder for me. I told him just that.

As a licensed psychotherapist, or as in most trained professions, I forget that most people don’t know what I know. Most people didn’t go through the same regiment of additional education and 3,000 hours of grueling training. The definition of psychotherapy isn’t ingrained in their brains just like the definition of certiorari (a legal term) and obdormition (a medical term) are not ingrained in my brain. And so for me, the question was a great reminder that when talking about therapy, I need to start at the beginning rather than somewhere in the middle.

So – what is therapy (aka psychotherapy, talk therapy and counseling)? Therapy can be defined in many ways depending on who you ask. If I had to sum up therapy briefly, I would describe it as self-discovery or the intentional act of setting aside time for yourself every week (50 minutes to be precise) to gain more self-awareness leading to balance, fulfillment and clarity.

People attend therapy for a variety of reasons including (but definitely not limited to) to be heard, to be seen, to be understood, to explore, to problem-solve, to navigate transitions, to grieve and to heal. You can learn to answer questions such as, “Who am I?” “What are my values?” “Is this relationship working for me?” “Why do I say such mean things to myself?” “Why do I feel so alone all the time?” “Where am I going in life? And “What obstacles are standing in my way?” You can dive deep into figuring out where your anxiety or sadness or depression or self-doubt comes from and work to manage it so that you feel in control of your own life. And you can examine your relationships, your career path and your communication styles so that you can exist in a way that feels true to who you actually are.

Historically going to therapy meant you were “crazy” or that something was “seriously wrong with you.” The stigma around therapy was so intense that no one even wanted to say the word. Now more and more I’m finding that that’s not the case. The stigma around therapy is slowly, very slowly decreasing, and now rather than a weakness, therapy can be seen as a strength. At least, that's the way I see it. I see therapy as a way to take time for yourself, a means of self-care, and a path to discovering your strengths and your authentic self, your best self. 

So, what are you waiting for?

To Break Up or Not to Break Up

The topic of relationships seems to be coming up a lot right now - maybe because it's spring. Last week, someone in my book club asked if she should end her relationship with her girlfriend. We had a really nice chat and here is a brief and somewhat simplified version of my response. * 

Whether or not to break up with someone can be a really big question (sometimes it's pretty cut and dry) and it's actually a question no one can answer except you. Here are some things to consider to help you make your decision.

What is leading you to ask the question? How long have you been feeling this way? Has something happened recently or repeatedly that is making you question your relationship? If so, what is it? Can you rank it on a scale from 1-10, 1 being not a big deal and 10 being a deal breaker? What are your deal breakers and has she violated any of them? What are your reasons for being with her? How does she make you feel on a daily basis? How would you feel without her? Is she helping or holding you back from being the best version of yourself? Is there any abuse in the relationship (physical, emotional, psychological)? (If the answer to this question is yes - please seek immediate help.)

In addition to thinking about your relationship on your own, have you talked with your girlfriend about how you're feeling? If it is safe to do so, honest, open communication might help you get some more clarity. You don't have to say "I'm thinking about breaking up with you," but you can say something along the lines of, "I'm having some doubts about our relationship. Can we talk about us?" If you want to stay with her, maybe you can work on your relationship together? Going to couples counseling together could also be an option for you.

Personally, having been on both sides of a relationship ending (being the one doing the breaking up and being the one who is broken up with), I can say that neither is preferable - at least for me. If you do decide that the relationship is not working, think about how you would like to be broken up with and if possible, try to come from a place of respect, kindness and understanding. A good benchmark to keep in mind is, upon looking back at the event some time from now, can you feel proud about the way you handled it?

Good luck with your decision and as always, I'm happy to provide more guidance if you'd like.

*(Although this was written for a same sex couple, the ideas can be applied to any couple, or any part of a couple that is asking the same question.)