Is Short Term Therapy for You? Ask Yourself These Seven Questions

“Time-limited therapy” or short-term therapy works well for specific concerns. So, how do you know if going on a short-term basis is going to enough to make that changes that you want to see? Would committing to a longer therapy schedule be more beneficial? Consider the questions below.

Seven Questions to inform your choice

1. What are my therapy objectives?

Short-term therapy might be best typically when you have one issue to specifically focus on. If understanding yourself or you past and how it has affected your present patterns, if there are several concerns you want to address, or if you’re unsure where to begin, then long-term therapy might be better suited to you.

2. How sure am I about trying therapy?

Looking into a more time-limited approach to therapy might work for you are apprehensive about whether therapy is for you. Short term commitment will give you a taste of the process to see how agreeable it is for you. If you’re seeking support, this is a good place to start. When you therapy has ended, and it seems that you still need support, you can look into pursuing something longer, perhaps even another series of short-term sessions.

3. How much work do I want to do in-between sessions?

Typically Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has some homework associated with it. Research results suggest that completion of these assignments tends to lead to more successful outcomes in therapy. Committing to these assignments can have a more positive effect on your therapy outcome. If you would rather just go to appointments and not be bothered with anything between sessions, a longer time commitment may be better for you.

"If the idea of long-term therapy is a struggle, keep in mind that time-limited support is better than no support."

Dr. Ben Culhane

4. How much time do I have to do therapy?

If your lifestyle allows you brief pockets of time before you are traveling, moving or vacationing, short-term therapy could be a sensible option for the time being. Something to consider is tele-therapy. Many therapists are able to continue sessions with you via web-based video conferencing regardless of your location.

5. What is my budget?

Budget or lack of insurance can be a factor. If you need support with an issue, short-term therapy can be better than no support at all. You might also consider ways to find a therapist that are more reasonably priced. Some community mental health centers accept new clients, and pricing is based on actual income. Be prepared to show tax-returns, however.

6. How long have I struggled with this issue?

Some psychological issues are better suited for longer term therapy. For example, if you suffer from an addiction or from abuse of some form or relationship distress, long-term therapy might be a better fit for you. To be clear, you may still see benefits from short term sessions if that is your preference. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) offers useful tools for people struggling with abusive pasts and unwanted ways of coping like addictions

7. Are my issues an integrated part of my personality?

It is most likely that a longer commitment in therapy is necessary of the issues you face are an integral part of your personality. Consider, for instance, if anxiety is something that you have always struggled with when interacting socially, or if you have tended to hop from one relationship to the next and find it difficult to be vulnerable with a romantic partner, these issues are more suggestive of core patterns and concerns that insist on continual work. These issues might suggest that some of your early attachment relationships have affected your personality in ways for which long-term therapy is clinically suggested and shown to be more effective.


Remember, when it comes to your therapy, you are in control. You are not confined to only one option. Keep in mind that regardless of the model you chose, finding the right therapist is key. If you select long-term therapy, there is nothing that says you must stay. Changing your mind is your prerogative; though, make certain that you aren’t perpetuating a pattern of running away from your success.

If the idea of long-term therapy is a struggle, keep in mind that time-limited support is better than no support. Consider a round of short-term therapy.

Remember, too, therapy is a process. It might surprise you. If you keep an open mind, you just might discover that short-term therapy helps you to learn things about yourself and that inspire you seek longer term therapy, or one more round of short-term therapy. Incidentally, you might discover that one round of short-term therapy was exactly what got yourself on track again.

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that helps people who have suffered from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.

Life events are stored in our memory. Sometimes when a traumatic event happens to you, your memory of that experience can become locked away inside your brain, often with the same distressing emotions, sensations and thoughts of the original experience. When something happens to you that triggers that experience, you may re-experience the same feelings and sensations in your body, in effect reliving the memory as if it were in the present. For some, the re-experiencing can be mildly distressing though for others the emotional pain can be overwhelming and unbearable.

Often it is assumed that deep emotional pain takes a very long time to overcome. Numerous studies have shown that EMDR therapy assists the mind in healing from psychological trauma, just as your body naturally heals itself from a physical trauma. For example, when you get a splinter, it festers and causes pain. Your body works to push out the foreign object and once it has, the natural healing your body already knows how to do, occurs. EMDR therapy works in much the same way, allowing your brain to process information naturally and move toward healing. If our brains are blocked by traumatic events, the emotional wound festers and causes suffering. Remove the block, healing follows.

"EMDR therapy allows clients to access their brain’s natural healing processes already inside of them."

Dr. Ben Culhane

EMDR has been studied so extensively that the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense recognize it as an effective form of treatment for trauma. Studies have shown that by comparison, EMDR therapy not only works better than Prozac or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in terms of relieving symptoms but also after 12 week follow up, traumatic symptoms did not return. EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias as well as the “everyday” experiences that have led to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and the negative thoughts associated with feeling defective, powerless, or unsafe—any number of issues that bring individuals in for therapy.

Emotionally traumatic wounds are not just “unblocked,” or closed, but the trauma that has festered has been pushed out and healing happens. Clients who successfully conclude EMDR therapy sessions have a sense of empowerment over their past experiences that at one time defeated them. The sensations, emotions, thoughts and images associated with the debilitating event or events are no longer experienced when a person brings the trauma to mind.

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post-traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

More information on EMDR: