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Christian Counseling - How Long Does Therapy Take?

Every person entering treatment has a desire or some sense of how long therapy should last. This is somewhat dependent upon what they believe it is all about. Those who think of counseling as a professional passing along logical information will probably think it should only take a few sessions. Those who view human life as simple and easily changeable will also think a few sessions will do the trick. And those who see life as complex, problems as years in the making, and change coming only by much time and effort will likely hold a view that treatment will last a year, or two, or longer. People who have attempted to change a thought, feeling or behavior that has existed in their lives for many years know there is no quick fix.

Medical science is more of a hard science, therefore, a doctor can prescribe a specific round of meds for a specific time with success. However, the science and spirituality of counseling is soft. Therefore, we do not possess the same ability to prescribe services for a very specific period of time. The exception would be an educational format (providing instruction) or perhaps the treatment of a simple issue (phobia) where cognitive/behavioral therapy is applied.

There are many other reasons for the indeterminate length of counseling. Things like:

1. The number and type of treatment goals.
2. The length of time the disorder has existed.
3. The type, number and rigidity of defense mechanisms.
4. The client's ability to trust.
5. The client's motivation to explore the issues and complete assignments.
6. The client's sense of personal power and need to be in control.
7. The complexity of a client's personality.
8. The client's ability for insight.
9. The severity of trauma.

10. The age at which trauma began.

11. The client's courage to face one's pain and stay with it until it is resolved.

Change in counseling is like the change in becoming Christ-like, in terms of time. We will spend our lives working toward improvement and working on our sin nature, without ever finishing. Therefore, the overarching counseling goal is not 100% recovery, having the marriage you always dreamed about, or being free of all sin, but achieving a 60% to 70% improvement with regard to agreed upon personal goals. This is realistic. When a client passes this marker and there is mutual confidence he or she will be able to maintain and make continued improvement on his or her own, then the person is ready to discuss termination.

How long does it take to complete counseling? There is no concrete answer. However, to define this as best as one can, we at CCCRD take an in depth history of each client toward the beginning of counseling. The results are used to formulate a treatment plan that is based on a client's personality and how past experiences impacted his or her development and influence present problems. The therapist's experience in working with other similar issues and personalities gives him or her an idea of how long treatment is expected to take. It can be longer or shorter, depending on factors, such as future conflicts or new information gathered from further exploration in treatment.

When counseling is said to take a year or more, it may be helpful to think about it in light of the thoughts previously presented, and the following one. One year of weekly sessions is equivalent to less than one 40-hour work week. This one week of treatment is stretched out over the course of one year and, therefore, seems like a long time. All things considered, one full week of attending to oneself is not much time in which to make significant and long-lasting change.

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