Is Short-Term Therapy a Fit for You?

by Andrea Blundell
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Nervous about trying therapy? A good start might be a short-term therapy, also called ‘brief therapy’ or ‘time-limited therapy’.

What is brief therapy?

Traditional therapies like psychodynamic, humanistic, and existential are open-ended. You work with your therapist until you feel you have the results you need, and discuss issues as they arise.

But therapy has grown to meet our modern lifestyles and needs. New, shorter types of therapy mean you decide in the first few sessions just how many weeks you'll attend therapy, and what you'll be focusing on.

Is brief therapy for me?

So what sort of person is suited to brief therapy? See if the below sounds like you.

1. I am scared to try therapy.

With brief therapy you might feel more relaxed and less ‘trapped’, as you only attend sessions from between four to 24 weeks.

2. I don’t want to talk too much about my past.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a brief therapy that focuses more on your present-day issues than your past, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) helps you accept your life as it is right now. Person-centred counselling can be time-limited, and lets you choose the agenda.

3. I think talking about my problems sounds depressing.

Consider solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), which focuses on your strengths over your issues.

4. I want to focus on an exact issue.

Many short-term therapies help you pick a concrete goal or single issue to work on. If you have several issues you want to hit, you are probably better off with long-term therapy.

5. My big problem is relationships.

You are in luck. Cognitive analytical therapy (CAT), dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT), and transactional analysis are time-limited therapies that focus just on relating. Give one a try if the way you act around others is getting you down.

6. I don’t like commitment.

You can actually quit any therapy you try at any time - therapy is not a jail sentence! But if you feel better knowing it’s a limited commitment, then definitely go for a short-term therapy.

7. I like structure and am results orientated.

Shorter therapies tend to have more of a framework. Some help you set a clear goal at the start of your therapy you then work towards. Or try dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT), which actually tracks your progress.

8. I like to know what I’m getting into.

Again, there is often more structure. Plus you know when the ending is, so you can arrange your yearly schedule and things like holidays.

9. I don’t mind homework.

Just because therapy is time limited does not mean it isn’t thorough. Therapies like CBT maximise your time in therapy by giving you homework to do and bring to your next session.

10. I am on a budget.

If you know how many weeks you’ll be in therapy, you know exactly what investment you are making and you can work your budget around it. Note that therapy can help you with money issues, too.

11. My issues are fairly recent.

Long-term issues like abuse and neglect deeply affect our capacity to trust others. A short-term therapy can help at first to give you coping skills. But you might want to then continue with a long-term form of therapy where you develop a bond with your therapist.

12. I don’t think I have a personality disorder.

A personality disorder means that since you were a teenager you have seen the world in a way that is different to people around you, and it makes life hard. CBT can be recommended for some personality disorders, but you might also need longer-term support.

Ready to give short-term therapy a try? Use our easy booking tool to find a therapist you like at a price you afford, and get talking!

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