How deep should therapy get?

One question that often arises in my work concerns the depth and breadth of the psychological tasks at hand – for how long should therapy last? Will it involve ‘raking over my past’ as some people put it. We want to feel better when we come to therapy, and a priority for many is to learn tools or techniques to help with this – often, as soon as possible. There are some very useful tools that can really help with some of the pernicious aspects of anxiety, panic and even depressive symptoms. I’ve seen clients markedly improve once they begin to manage their symptoms better, rather than be at their behest – whether it’s gripping negative thoughts or insomnia through anxiety. But often, in learning how to manage our uncomfortable symptoms, we learn that they may well have to do with things that run deeper, that may well have roots in some tricky unprocessed painful events in the past.

Some of us can go with this, and if we can afford to commit to more weeks of therapy to make sense of it all I’d argue this may work better in the long run. But it may be that you don’t want to or can’t and that’s ok too: finding a therapist who can adapt to your needs in this way is important.