You’ve made the decision to enter counseling but you’re wondering how long it will take to see some results. This is probably the most frequently asked question in counseling. It’s a good one, too. As you can imagine, the nature of change is different for everyone so it’s hard to pin down an exact timeline but we can make some general predictions. Typically change happens quickly, sometimes even before the first session! A study by Howard, Kopta, Krause and Orlinsky (1986) found that 15% of clients improve simply by taking that first step of setting up an appointment. They further discovered that 50% improve within eight sessions, and 75% by 26 sessions.
In the counseling profession we tend to differentiate between short and long-term work at around the 20th session. Most counseling falls into the “short,” or brief counseling category. Let’s face it: most people want to make some progress and make it quickly. But most therapists aren’t trained to help in this regard. We work differently here. We’ve been trained in brief therapy principles and techniques and don’t wish for change – we facilitate it to happen by setting goals and actively getting engaged with our clients. If there’s a common frustration that I’ve heard from clients it’s that when they’ve gone to a therapist that person simply sat there like a bump on a log, listening well but offering little in return. We don’t subscribe to this model. You have a right to expect feedback, direction, and the information an expert can provide.
Here’s what I tell all my clients and I’d like to tell you: if positive changes aren’t taking place by the eight session (and often well before) then it’s time to reevaluate if counseling is the right intervention and whether I’m the right counselor for you.
Don’t procrastinate – call and start getting help now.