When was the last time you had to wait for something? We live in a society where we don’t have to wait for much. Want to know if Denzel Washington has ever won an Oscar? Google it. Want to know if your cough might really be pneumonia? WebMD has you covered. Want to grab lunch in between appointments but it needs to be clean and gluten-free? Hit the drive thru at Panera. As human beings, we hate waiting, and as Americans, we hate wasting time.
One of the questions I frequently hear from someone new to therapy is, “How long will this take?” It can be unsettling for people when they hear that there is no defined timeline, there is no quick fix, and there is no definitive end date. Engaging in therapy for personal healing is not like having a baby – one way or another that baby will see his or her first birthday outside of the womb. In contrast, a person may spend many birthdays in therapy. It all depends on each person’s unique situation, their life experiences, and what they want to accomplish.
One of the reasons that therapy has an open-ended timeline is because it is specifically tailored to each individual. There are many approaches and techniques used by therapists that apply broadly to certain conditions, such as anxiety or marital problems. However, the application of those approaches and techniques will vary from person to person or couple to couple. Research has shown that no matter what theory or technique a therapist uses, the primary mechanism of healing is the relationship between a therapist and client. Developing a relationship takes time. And that means that therapy takes time.
There is no quick fix. Therapy is not fast food. Not even the clean, gluten-free organic kind. That being said, there are ways to maximize the time devoted to therapeutic healing:
1. Make the decision that this is time well used. You can be a better woman, man, leader, employee, mother, father, daughter, son, wife, husband, if you feel mentally and emotionally healthy.
2. Devote consistent time every week to attending sessions or doing “homework.” The more engaged you are, the faster you will grow and flourish.
3. Ask about EMDR. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a technique that allows people to achieve significant results in a relatively short amount of time.