Many people come to therapy with a goal. They have something going on in their life that they believe could be better. This could be a mental health condition, like depression, OCD, or panic disorder, a past trauma or experience that they feel is holding them back, or areas they want to improve, such as relationships or self confidence.
Two approaches to therapy are short term and ongoing counseling. Both can help you achieve therapeutic goals, and the right approach can vary based on your specific means and what you and your therapist think will work best for treatment. But there are many advantages to long term counseling.
Ongoing counseling can last for a significant period of time, often over six months and as long as several years. During this time you will work on long term problems or a range of several different goals. There are many reasons why it can be a good option to choose this approach to therapy.
Why Long Term Therapy Makes Sense
Some people enter into therapy because they have a specific issue that they want help with. After several weeks to several months, they manage to decrease symptoms of anxiety or depression, process grief, or overcome a relationship challenge, at which point they decide therapy is successful and they are able to move on.
This is a valid approach to therapy, but certainly not right for everyone. With ongoing therapy, you and your psychotherapist continue working towards therapy goals, setting new goals when the original ones are met for as long as your therapeutic relationship remains beneficial. This offers advantages for patients in therapy such as:
- More Comprehensive Treatment – When going to therapy for a specific issue, that is the primary focus. Yet many people have far more than just one area where they can benefit from growth and most challenges are the result of a wide range of experiences, beliefs, and behaviors. This makes a comprehensive treatment naturally the most effective, and ongoing therapy gives you the time and space to address all of the different issues that may be troubling you and all of their various causes.
- Strong Relationship with Your Therapist – Continuing therapy with the same psychotherapist means that you can work with someone who already knows your history, goals, and previous therapeutic work so that you are not having to spend time forming a relationship with a new therapist every time you find yourself with a challenge that prompts you to go back into therapy.
- More Experience – As time goes on, life will continue to bring up new challenges. Although you may feel that you are adequately able to deal with all of your current challenges or you have mitigated symptoms of a mental health condition, ongoing therapy can provide you guidance for when new challenges arise. This can help you apply your new skills to a range of different situations with the guidance of your therapist so that if you do leave therapy in the future, you have a range of experience and practice to draw on.
- Understanding Causes – While managing symptoms is often the first step in any therapy, long term or short term, it is also extremely beneficial to understand what may have led to your existing situation. This can help you avoid similar conditions in the future. Working through experiences, trauma, and personal beliefs often takes more time and may not be possible with short term therapy.
Choosing between long term or short term therapy depends on many factors. Certain conditions like bipolar disorder or OCD, or deeply ingrained traumas and behaviors such as childhood abuse or trouble navigating interpersonal relationships, require more ongoing term therapy to successfully manage.
The length of your therapy sessions is also something that you will discuss when first establishing your therapeutic relationship and as therapy is ongoing.
At Long Island Counseling Services, we offer ongoing counseling to meet a range of different needs and work with you to create a treatment plan that is on the timeline necessary to meet all of your goals in counseling. Call our team to learn more about the conditions and issues we can treat and get more information on our different psychotherapists.