How Long Does it Take for Therapy to Work?
It's not a science
It can take a few months to years for therapy to work. There is no set time frame that you can follow when starting therapy sessions until you are ‘healthy’ again. This is the most honest and accurate answer. We are all unique individuals and have different things going on in our lives, many of them stacked on top of multiple more issues that need to be addressed.
Here is How Long Does it Take for Therapy to Work? Honest Answer.
How long does therapy take to work?
There is no set time that will “heal” whatever mental struggles you want to overcome. It can take weeks to months to years.
My goal with Never Alone is to make mental health conversations more realistic. To answer the most asked questions I get in person and see online, honestly and sincerely. A reply I would give to my closest friends. Being like these other mental health brands and advocates who quote a previously seen statistic online is doing you, nor the positive movement of mental health help, any good.
So, my honest and most heartful answer is this: There is no time frame to healing the struggles you are fighting inside, BUT as you keep working each week with a therapist and with other tools, you WILL see a change for the better.
But also, YES THERAPY IS WORTH IT!
And in time, you will be looking back on this day of wondering how long it will take to feel normal again, and have a slight smile, saying, “I made it.”
Let me share why I’m not following these other brands and advocates, and giving you a real answer to how long does it take for therapy to work.
How long does it take for anything to work?
Asking a question like this will get you the same answer you would to these often asked questions.
“How long will it take me to get fit?”
“How long will it take me to learn spanish?”
“How long will it take for me to get 50,000 followers on my Tik Tok?”
There is no set time frame for these areas in life. With so many variables, it’s impossible to give exact time frames. Here is an example that you may be able to relate to more.
Example: How long does it take to get in shape?
As an ex-personal trainer, I can tell you that working six days a week for six months of dedication will do the trick. You will be fit!
But will that do it for 100% of the asking people?
What if they don’t do any work outside of the gym to help get to their goal?
What if they can’t kick their bad habits of going drinking every weekend and eating food that will work against their goal.
Is six days a week for six months still a valuable goal for them?
How Long Does it Take for Therapy to Work?
If you are dead set on coming up with a deadline to be feeling normal again, I highly suggest you rethink leading with this focus. When you set a hard set goal on something that affects you so much daily, the act of not achieving it can make things far worse.
Take a second and think about therapy… it lasts 60 minutes.
If you go 1x a week, you work with a professional for 60 out of 10,080 minutes.
In what area of your life has doing such little work ever paid off with significant results in months?
Instead of putting a set number of sessions in your head, I suggest you follow the steps below to find success.
How to make therapy work
The best way to make therapy work is to go every day of your life. That isn’t possible for 99.99% of us.
Instead, we can create positive routines in our days that add to our overall goal of improving our mental growth. Take each one of these mental health tools and add them to your life.
1. Commit to weekly therapy sessions
When I say ‘commit,’ I mean pay upfront with your therapist for X amount of therapy sessions per month.
Find a number that you both agree on and can afford OR see as a valuable investment in your personal growth (I invested $12,000 in therapy between 2017 and 2019, and I would 3x that if I had to do it again.)
Find your weekly number, schedule the whole month’s worth of sessions and pair your therapist.
Not sure how many therapy sessions a week are a solid base to go with?
Let us help you with How Often Should You go to Therapy?
2. Commit to weekly exercising
Exercising is the most underrated tool to better your mental health. Moving your body creates endorphins and other positive changes inside your brain, but that’s not the only reason you need to start being more active.
Planning daily workouts give you an easy ‘win’ for the day. Finding areas, you can win consistently are essential for building your confidence and letting those positive thoughts help push you through the tough times to come.
Tip: Exercising is a wide range of activities. Doing a 30-minute light walk, yoga classes, bike rides, hiking and lifting weights all fall into this area. Start with a comfortable routine and grow it as you feel more confident in yourself.
Starting a fitness routine can be as daunting as starting therapy, let our articles help you find that confidence to start: How Long Does it Take to get in Shape? & Can Exercise Make Anxiety Worse? No!
3. Commit to eating healthier
Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean eating a bland diet. And diet doesn’t mean you need to follow a specific plan drastically.
Eating healthy for your mental health looks like this:
- Eat less processed foods (example: Frozen meals, anything in a package)
- Eat less high sugar foods (example: snacks, desserts, comfort food)
- Eat less simple complex carbs (example: bread from fast foods, cereal)
Instead, focus on eating more along these lines:
- Eat more naturally made foods (example: Grocery shop and cook at home, or order a meal delivery service)
- Eat more naturally grown (example: fruits, vegetables, organic)
- Eat more complex carbs (example: rice, sourdough, quinoa)
Changing your food intake in minor tweaks will still allow you to eat those not as healthy meals, but less of them. Think of “small wins.”
4. Create a morning routine
Creating a morning routine will help you wake up with a purpose.
One of the biggest struggles when going to therapy you most likely will face is keeping the positive work on bettering your mental health for the rest of the 23hrs in a day.
It’s not easy to keep that mindset of “I got this” and “I can make a change” up 24/7.
A morning routine will help you build a base of positive changes and small wins each day of your life. As these changes solidify your body’s core and the wins add up, you will find the “other” hours of your day don’t seem so daunting.
Start crafting your morning routine with My Morning Routine for Anxiety.
5. Create an evening routine
Creating an evening routine will help you finish your day off with the right mindset.
Suppose your day went positively with multiple ‘wins’ leading you into a blissful sleep, great! Now is the time to think about why those events occurred and how you can duplicate them tomorrow.
Now, if your day was mental health disaster, full of anxiety, depression and the same pitfalls you have fallen into for the last months. Use your evening time then to step outside yourself and look over your day, trying to find reasons why these things happened again.
Start crafting your evening routine with our Evening Routine for Personal Growth & Mental Health.
During the 1 hr therapy session
When in therapy the best practice you can follow is, to be honest, and not be ashamed of what that honesty might sound like to your therapist.
Fear of looking weak in front of someone you do not know well is a common feeling to have. However, the quicker you can overcome that fear and speak to your therapist with the utmost honest replies, the better off you will be.
And remember that therapy is not all about the negatives in life, talk about the positive things going on.
Smile, laugh and cry tears of joy.
Here are 2 articles that will help you feel more comfortable during your sessions
How to win at Therapy
As you can see, there are many reasons why your therapy sessions might or might not work to achieve your end goals. However if you never see a therapist then your chances of not feeling better rise drastically.
The biggest tip that I can share with you, which I learned from personal experience in starting my own therapy sessions in 2017, is this…
Don’t be afraid to fail… You learn when you fail.
You will fail every day in some small way.
Feel the pain of these failures, but allow your morning and evening routines to set up a plan to overcome that failure when it shows up again.
Then talk with your therapist about what happened and your plan to overcome it at the next session.
Taking advantage of professional help is the strongest decision you can make in bettering your mental health.
It can take just one session to feel the positive effects of therapy. This all depends on how open and honest you are with your therapist in that session.
Knowing if there is ‘working’ is different for every individual. The positive feedback you can feel from therapy can be feeling happier, being less depressed, feeling you are more in control of your life or many other things.
There is no set number to see results in therapy, just as this is no set number of workouts to get in the shape you want. Generally, going 1x a week for an extended period is a good starting place.
Therapy can get harder before it gets better. One reason is that it is uncomfortable to open up fully to yourself and your therapist. This depends on how many honest feelings you are hiding from yourself.