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How quickly will therapy start to make me feel better?

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Most people experience some immediate relief, simply from getting things off their chest, and to share their concerns with someone who is not a stakeholder in their personal life. This is essentially a pressure release, and the relief it provides is short term, as it does not solve or address the underlying problems.

Once we delve more deeply into aspects of your life that make you uncomfortable, therapy may sometimes feel stressful or upsetting. This is normal. As underlying issues and traumas are resolved, a deeper sense of peace and grounding will result. This is different from a feeling of relief.

How long it takes to feel better in a sustained way varies depending on the depth and complexity of the issues that lead you to seek treatment. Treatment for trauma largely stemming from a recent, single incident is much shorter than treatment for trauma from a lifetime full of incidents. Treatment for anxiety and/or depression that is caused by a life transition that will pass – such as starting or ending college or a career - will take less time than depression linked to a lifetime of troubled interpersonal relationships.

It is important to understand that healing in therapy will likely not restore you as if troubling or traumatic things haven’t happened to you. Typically, rather than becoming overwhelmed by provocative stimuli, you will notice them and have manageable emotional reactions to them. You will be able to recognize your reaction, and interact with it. You will be able to learn from it and respond to it in ways that are helpful.

It is more like kintsugi – the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold infused-bonding agents.

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