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Short-Term vs. Long-Term Therapy

A common question that we often hear when someone reaches out about our services is: “How long will therapy last?”. The honest answer to this question is that there is no simple and defined answer to this question! Essentially, you should stay in therapy for as long as you need to or as long as you want to be in therapy depending on what concerns you are wanting to address. There can be a great variety in the length of time that therapy will take depending on many factors including the type and severity of symptoms a client is experiencing, the type of therapy treatment that will be used, how the problem is impacting the client’s life, and the goals that the client identifies. Read along to learn about the key differences between short-term and long-term therapy options to understand what might be best for you!


Short-Term Therapy

Short-term therapy can be defined as treatment that typically lasts from 10 to 20 sessions. This type of therapy is often seen as a solution-focused and brief form of treatment. A few examples of concerns that would be appropriate to address in short-term therapy include work/life balance, relationship stress, communication issues, boundary setting, and adjusting to life transitions (ex: a new job or going away to college).

Short-term therapy is often focused on current situational issues that are impacting your day-to-day life and identifying actionable steps that you can take at this time to improve your well-being. 


Long-Term Therapy

Long-term therapy can be defined as treatment that exceeds the parameters set for short-term therapy of 10 to 20 sessions. Therapy can span from 6 months to many years. A few examples of concerns that would be appropriate to address in long-term therapy include deep-rooted challenges related to childhood trauma, individuals struggling with an eating disorder, individuals who have received a personality disorder diagnosis, individuals struggling with addiction, and to address attachment issues. Long-term therapy often focuses on taking a deep dive into your past to increase self-awareness of how the past may be impacting how you are navigating life at this time including in your relationships, inner dialogue, and more. 


Our counselors at Natural Balance Counseling, typically start seeing new clients weekly. We then transition our clients, at their own pace, to a less frequent session structure such as bi-weekly and then monthly. Our clients range from individuals who come in and reach their goals within 6 months and choose to terminate services, clients who reach their goals and wish to continue with monthly maintenance visits, or clients who wish to remain in therapy for the long-term to address deep-rooted concerns. We also have clients who terminate services but choose to return for a series of sessions due to a new or recurring issue arising that they need support through. Our job as your therapist is to put ourselves out of a job. We want to provide you with attainable skills to overcome the challenges that you are facing, help increase your insight, and assist you with reaching the goals that you have set for your mental health.


There is not a one size fits all answer to this question and it is important to understand that each individual seeking counseling is unique. Ultimately, this decision should be made through self-reflection and discussing your treatment plan with the professional that you are working with. As a practice, we focus on providing personalized mental health counseling tailored to your needs as an individual, couple, or family. We are prepared to walk alongside you on this journey and can help you identify whether short-term or long-term therapy will be beneficial for the concerns that you are wishing to address. If you are interested in services, please reach out to us at to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see if we would be a good fit for you!