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Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Tyranny of Time: How Long Does Effective Therapy Really Take?

Jonathan Shedler & Enrico Gnaulati
Psychotherapy Networker
Originally posted March/April 20

Here is an excerpt:

Like the Consumer Reports study, this study also found a dose–response relation between therapy sessions and improvement. In this case, the longer therapy continued, the more clients achieved clinically significant change. So just how much therapy did it take? It took 21 sessions, or about six months of weekly therapy, for 50 percent of clients to see clinically significant change. It took more than 40 sessions, almost a year of weekly therapy, for 75 percent to see clinically significant change.

Information from the surveys of clients and therapists turned out to be pretty spot on. Three independent data sources converge on similar time frames. Every client is different, and no one can predict how much therapy is enough for a specific person, but on average, clinically meaningful change begins around the six-month mark and grows from there. And while some people will get what they need with less therapy, others will need a good deal more.

This is consistent with what clinical theorists have been telling us for the better part of a century. It should come as no surprise. Nothing of deep and lasting value is cheap or easy, and changing oneself and the course of one’s life may be most valuable of all.

Consider what it takes to master any new and complex skill, say learning a language, playing a musical instrument, learning to ski, or becoming adept at carpentry. With six months of practice, you might attain beginner- or novice-level proficiency, maybe. If someone promised to make you an expert in six months, you’d suspect they were selling snake oil. Meaningful personal development takes time and effort. Why would psychotherapy be any different?

The info is here.