How Long Until I Notice Results?
When you start therapy, you may start to feel better right away. For lasting change to occur, a minimum number of sessions is typically needed.
Research shows that generally for acute symptoms 6 to 8 sessions are effective. Chronic symptoms typically require 14 or more sessions for a positive outcome.
The type of improvement you can expect in therapy is largely related to the duration of your therapy sessions.
Average Session Length for a Condition
The average length of your therapy sessions can depend on your mental health condition. Your needs and goals of your sessions can also determine how many you attend to feel you’ve achieved your desired progress.
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is when an individual feels they can’t control their worries throughout the day. If you have GAD, you feel worried constantly, seemingly without reason or based on hypothetical situations that haven’t happened. If your worry symptoms have lasted for six months, professional treatment may be right for you.
On average, seeing results from your GAD therapy may take 8 to 10 sessions.
There are several types of depression you may experience, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. If you’re feeling depressed, you may experience a low mood for several weeks and feel like there’s no hope of feeling better.
On average, it may take about 6 to 8 therapy sessions to notice progress.
Chronic depression may take longer to experience meaningful change. In your sessions, you can learn tools and strategies to help you cope with your depression and make it more manageable to live with and complete your daily tasks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs when you’ve witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. You may have flashbacks of the event or a physical reaction as if the event were taking place all over again. You may avoid others and places that remind you of the event.
Progress in your condition may take between 15 to 20 sessions.
If you’re encountering challenges in your relationship and you’re seeking couples therapy, it may take several sessions to notice a difference in how you interact with and feel about your partner. For example, if you and your partner are experiencing financial difficulties or communication issues, this may take about 4 to 6 sessions.
More complex relationship issues may take about 12 to 16 sessions to get to the root of the issue and find strategies right for you and your partner.
For individual therapy on interpersonal issues, approximately 16 sessions are needed for significant improvement in interpersonal difficulties.
Average Session Length for Treatment Types
Certain types of therapy are effective for specific concerns while others can be effective for multiple types of symptoms. Each type of therapy can have different goals in the treatment process.
Here are a few examples of different types of therapy and what to expect:
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that emphasizes acceptance to deal with negative thoughts, feelings, symptoms, or circumstances. ACT therapy encourages increased commitment to healthy, constructive activities that uphold your values or goals. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy typically lasts between 8 and 16 sessions and sessions are usually scheduled once per week.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
Solution-focused brief therapy is short-term goal-focused and a collaborative process with your therapist. You can work with your therapist to find what works for you as they apply positive psychology principles and practices to monitor your responses to different stimuli. It focuses on sustainable, inspiring goals to help you.
On average, this therapy can vary depending on how quickly you can find a solution. This type of therapy typically lasts between 4 and 6 sessions and sessions are usually scheduled once per week.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most common therapies for individuals to attend, and it focuses on working with your therapist to alter your thoughts and behavior. In your sessions, you can identify thoughts that limit what you think about yourself and what you’re capable of accomplishing in life. Then, you can replace the limiting thoughts with healthier and helpful thoughts. This therapy is helpful for a plethora of challenges you might be encountering, such as eating disorders, anxiety disorders, depression disorders, substance dependence, or relationship issues. On average, cognitive-behavioral therapy may take about 12 to 20 weekly sessions.