Life has massively speeded up in recent years and many people are working too hard, for too many hours while feeling that they're achieving less, and that what they do achieve has becoming increasingly meaningless. The causes of this are complex and, therapists being people in society too, therapy has quietly divided itself over the years to reflect this.
One way offers a very limited number of free sessions determined by an employer. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) can be very useful indeed, some covering everything from financial advice to medical investigations but it has clear aims: to get your work performance back up where it was and to reduce the chance of you taking legal action against the employer. Decent employers know that if a workforce is at least not unhappy they're likely to be more productive and that counselling can be helpful, and many (EAPs) tell employers that 'the evidence' shows that 6 sessions is enough to cure everything. You'll know that 'evidence' is often contradictory and that the 'evidence' we choose is most often decided by what we can or want to afford.
Severe and long term funding cuts mean that low cost agencies and the NHS are overwhelmed and must limit the numbers of sessions they can offer if they are to attend to more than a few people at a time. They find themselves in the impossible position of symptom management rather than repair knowing that many people will return with the same or a new symptom because the cause hasn't been dealt with, and that many will simply resign themselves to suffering.
Actual therapy offers a longer term therapeutic engagement that allows space for your concerns to be understood and carefully addressed so that you move sustainably towards a life that is balanced, productive and enjoyable. I offer this for several reasons.
1. All the research shows that the one determining factor between effective and less effective therapy - whether that's short term or open ended work - is the therapeutic alliance: how well the client believes the therapist understands them, agrees with them on what the problems might be and on how best to deal with those problems. This necessarily takes time. It takes time to get used to the unique and unusual way of doing things that therapy requires, to trust a therapist you've never met and then to trust them enough to begin to say what's actually on your mind. It's not at all unusual to not know what's on your mind. Anxiety, stress, sadness, any headline feeling is incredibly multifaceted: after 6 sessions we might be beginning to be aware of what else might be going on.
2. Any issue that's large enough to bring you to therapy has taken some time to develop and is going to take more than 300 minutes to think about, let alone begin to address.
3. After 15 years+ of being a full time therapist in both ultra time limited symptom management and in longer term work, it's what I believe to be the best, the safest and the most productive way to do therapy. A doctor wouldn't just slap a cast on what you tell them is a broken bone. You'd expect them to do some investigations to determine what's actually going on, then take the most appropriate course of action, then want to see you a number of times afterwards. Therapy is similar. And just as it takes time for a bone to heal so psychological issues require time to heal, too. A healed bone causes most people little trouble, but when the weather gets cold or we get older, the bone can ache. Old wounds, long forgotten, can remind us they exist when things get tough.
I promise, if it was possible to cure distress so easily mental health would not be getting the national and international attention that it is. We don't have xrays or blood tests that can identify a cause of emotional distress*, and while prescription medicines can be very useful indeed they are not a cure for meaninglessness, bullying, bereavement, loss, overwhelm or the many other causes of unhappiness.
How long? You can get some solid ground work done in 6 weeks. With both time limited and open ended therapy I've found that a vast majority of clients consistently find 10 or more weeks useful. Some stay for 4-6 months, many stay longer and like every half decent therapist I'm keen to avoid clients becoming dependent. The whole purpose of therapy is to help you move towards feeling more in control of your own life.
Give me a call on 07717 845 115 and let's see what's best for you.
*I'll often propose that a client visit their GP to see if they need blood tests that can identify things like anaemia, thyroid function, underlying infection or unstable blood sugar because these conditions have an emotional impact.