How Long Does Counselling Take To Work?

FAQs: Time Counselling Takes

There is normally no fixed time line for counselling treatment to work in - it is a truly unique journey for each individual.

This is simply because there are a multitude of variables involved in every counselling relationship between therapist and client:


- Experience & expertise of the chosen counsellor

- Counsellor's past experience in the issue at hand

- A client's willingness to open up and reveal significant elements of the problem

- A client's pre-existing beliefs and values, which determine how readily or how slowly, new ideas and new meanings are accepted and integrated into life.

- The possibility of "relapse" - or having work already done, not stick in daily life, and require backtracking to complete fully.

- How well defined a problem is, and to what extent it branches out into other areas of life which also need attention in order to feel better. Feelings and emotions can often seem to be about current day events, but require a change of perspective on the past as well, in order to resolve them.

- Very practical concerns, such as finance, and time available, to complete treatment.

A Standard Recommendation Is Six Sessions

In many cases counsellors work from a standard recommendation of six sessions. This usually isn't intended as a hard and fast rule, but more a guideline or starting point from which to explore the issue at hand.

Your Feelings Matter. We Can Help:

Opening The Doorway For Change

Feeling better from counselling, hinges upon obtaining a counsellor's help to change the meaning of certain events or circumstances, such that it allows you to see events from a different perspective, and thus feel better about them.

Key Factors

There are a few crucial elements in the counselling relationship between client and therapist, without which the journey will be significantly slower; meaning more sessions, or even having to change therapists altogether:

  • Trust - An explicit and agreed trust between both parties is needed if the client is to share everything of value with the therapist, and thus have any hope of feeling better. An inability or reluctance to share crucial elements of an event, or the meaning we give to them, will naturally hinder the therapist's ability to help you see it differently.
  • Acceptance - An unconditional acceptance of the client is critical, again, to help individuals who need help, feel safe. Without a sense of complete acceptance, clients can and will make negative conclusions about themselves, the event, the meaning they gave it, in the counselling environment, thus either disallowing the therapist from begin ablt to help in the first place, or undoing the work that has already been done.
  • Hope - From an early stage in the counselling relationship, the client must be able to see hope - they must have a real sense of where this road is going, that the counsellor they're working with can help, and the journey there, is worthwhile. Those attending counselling are usually in a vulnerable position, and need extra reassurance that the end result is worth the journey.

Progress Can Speed Up, As Number Of Sessions Increases

Like many things in life, much of the work of therapy, is done at the start of the process.

Think of it like this. People often arrive at therapy as a result of a single negative thinking pattern that has become generalised into something else. e.g. one or two impactful events which the client has formed a negative conclusion around, begin to sow doubts in other areas of life.

The good news is, that this generalisation effect often plays out in practice, for positive changes made, too.

i.e. When, with the counsellor's help, we begin to see certain previous events more positively, this new perspective can spread through other seemingly unrelated events, and change our broader perspective, for the better, quicker.

Managing Expectations

This can sometimes mean that a relationship which the client initially thought would be long term, comes to a conclusion quicker than expected, especially where the original issue is well defined, with a clear end-goal understood by both parties.

Overall, the most appropriate plan is to review and discuss openly, the progress you're making in therapy, and weigh up all the practical and other factors affecting progress.

Our counsellors adhere to the BACP code of ethics and practice.

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