Brief Therapy, Just How Long Is It?

When people first enquire about my services, one question I am asked more than any other is, ‘how long will this all take?’ It’s a difficult question to answer given that, at that point, I know next to nothing about you or what you want help with. It’s true that CBT and hypnotherapy are both known as brief therapies, but what does that mean exactly?

When people do ask me how many sessions it will take, my answer is usually along the lines of, ‘well that depends on the nature and severity of the problem and, more importantly, how many problems you are presenting with.

Brief therapy, for CBT and hypnotherapy, means weeks to months (as opposed to the years you can spend in other forms of counselling and psychotherapy).

If you have one specific problem, such as a fear of speaking in public, or jealousy in your relationship, then I am fairly confident that I can help you in about six sessions. But, things are very rarely that simple.

Psychotherapy takes commitment and the more commitment you have, the more benefits you reap.

Studies have shown that a 16-week course of CBT helps around 75 per cent of people recover from social anxiety, 65 per cent to recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), about 80 per cent to recover from panic disorder whilst, for mild to moderate depression, CBT helps around 60 per cent of people recover.

Time and cost are sadly factors that are relevant to most of us so, quite often, people are prescribed six sessions of CBT through the NHS or via their health insurance. So much so that ‘six’ has become a magic number, with many thinking that’s what brief therapy means.

Again, for a specific problem, six sessions will usually suffice. Any more than that and you could be looking at 10, 12 or more sessions (some people I have seen for six months or more) – but those sessions will make such an incredible difference to your daily life.

Also, CBT is an educational therapy, every step of the way, you are taught to use what you learn in those sessions. So, if you fully commit yourself to the process and work on two or three problems, after that you will know enough about both these therapies to fully help yourself going forwards.