Are we there yet?
I remember going on family vacations when I was younger. The excitement between my three sisters and I would build for weeks. Finally, the day would arrive, and we were off. Pretty soon the questions would begin. Anyone who has traveled with children (or some adults) has heard these questions. “How much longer?” “Are we close?” “Are we there yet?” Depending on how long the drive was, there could be many variations of these questions, and they would be asked numerous times. This was usually when my parents remembered why we had flown instead of driven the year before.
The journey of therapy has some similarities to our family road trips. Appointments are made with anticipation of feeling better. You may feel depressed, anxious, or could be dealing with a specific issue that is interfering with your life and your happiness. You are seeking help and a new perspective on life. Some clients come to therapy primarily to reduce the symptoms they are struggling with, and, there are some that want help discovering the issues that may cause those symptoms.
How long is this going to take?
You finally make it to your first session. A common question that is asked is, “How many sessions will this take?” or “What’s the estimated time frame for this issue?” Moving into sessions two, three and four, people start asking, “How much longer will I need therapy?” “Is there something I should be doing on the side to expedite this process?” “Can you suggest any books or seminars that may cut off a few sessions?”
We live in a time where convenience, speed and efficiency are desired and expected. Expedited shipping, fast food, same-day delivery, express lane – we want everything fast. I just did a Google search for “Austin.” As soon as I hit the enter key, an entire selection of sites appeared. In fact, I received a notice telling me that Google had provided about 12,230,000,000 results in 0.84 seconds. Nearly instantaneous results have become our normal, which makes the process of therapy seem abnormally long.
To go fast, we slow things down
Jonathan Shedler said, “Psychotherapy is about slowing things down—so we can begin to see and understand the patterns that otherwise happen quickly, automatically, without reflection or awareness. (American Psychologist: 2019) When my family took road trips when I was a kid, so much more happened along the way than just getting to our destination. While it may have been faster to fly, we certainly learned more about ourselves, and made deep, lasting memories during our drives in the car.
Similarly, accelerated therapy is not expeditious. Slower is faster. Attempting to race through therapy may work for a time. But when we don’t take the time to look deeply into the issues at play, it usually results in coming back to therapy again, perhaps with more issues the next time. There is no express lane for restructuring years of harmful learned behaviors, barriers that were built for safety, non- effective coping mechanisms, or destructive narratives that we believe and live out. It takes years to build unhealthy beliefs and patterns of behavior. It takes time to discover them and unlearn them.
Therapy is an investment of time, money, and effort
Therapy is an investment in a better life. It takes time, money and effort. Those who are willing to exert patience, fervent determination and hard work are the ones who experience a positive return on the investment. You are worth it.
Written by clinician Lorri M. Frasier M.A., NCC, LCDC – Associate, LPC-Associate
supervised by Dr. Kyle Miller, LPC-S