NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Common Myths About Psychotherapy - Therapy Always Takes a Long Time

In recent years, I've found that most people who call me to set up a psychotherapy consultation tend to be much better informed about psychotherapy than even a few years ago.  When they call, they're often asking about particular types of psychotherapy, like EMDR, clinical hypnosis or Somatic Experiencing.

Common Myths About Psychotherapy: Therapy Takes a Long Time

Often, they've been in psychotherapy before or they've done their research online or spoken to friends who have been in therapy, so they are coming to therapy as "informed consumers."  But I find that there are still many people who have misconceptions about psychotherapy due to the many ongoing myths about psychotherapy.  So, I thought I would start with one of the most common myths--that therapy takes a long time.

There Are So Many More Choices For Therapy Now: 
I can't even count how many times new clients have come in and said, "I don't want to be like Woody Allen--in therapy for 50 years."  Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest misconceptions about psychotherapy, complete with the client lying down on the analytic couch free associating to whatever comes to his or her mind and the therapist (usually a man looking very much like Sigmund Freud with white hair and a beard) sitting silently behind the client taking notes.  

This stereotypical image is a throwback to the days when the only type of therapy that was available to clients was classical psychoanalysis.

As a therapist, my original training was in psychoanalysis.  If a client is interested in psychoanalysis, I'm happy to engage them in the psychoanalytic process.  But, even if we are working psychoanalytically, I usually work in a very contemporary, dynamic and interactive way.  I combine many different types of contemporary psychodynamic ways of working, including a post-Jungian dream work called Embodied Imagination.

 On the other hand, if a client prefers to work with more silences, I am also trained to work in this way.  So, there are choices.

Progress in Psychotherapy:
I also like to see clients making the kind of progress in treatment that they're seeking.  How"progress" is defined is also very specific to the client.

It doesn't necessarily mean that the client leaves therapy feeling good after each session or that each session brings about revelations every time.

For some people, it might take a while for them to even  trust the therapist to open up and be able to talk about their problems.  For them, this is progress.

For other people, progress might be gaining insight into their problems and being able to take action in their lives.  A lot depends on the client's internal motivation, willingness to make changes, the therapist's skills, and whether the client and therapist are a good match.

Aside from being psychoanalytically trained, I'm also certified in mind-body psychotherapy.  I'm trained in EMDR, clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing, which tend to be shorter forms of therapy as compared to traditional psychoanalysis to clear up certain types of trauma.  So, my approach is eclectic and flexible. 

When clients ask me "How long will I be in therapy?," I tell them that therapy is a very individual process.  It depends on what they want.  Some clients come in for a very specific problem that they want to overcome.

If they don't have layers of trauma and the problem is not related to deeper issues, short-term therapy can help them to clear up the problem.  For other clients, their current problems are part of many layers of trauma that began since childhood.  This type of problem is more complicated and would probably take longer.  

Getting Help in Therapy:  Start Therapy with a Consultation:
At the beginning of therapy, it's helpful to talk about the problem that brings you into therapy and what you would like to accomplish.

Of course, you're not required to know this beforehand in order to come to therapy.  For instance, many people know that they're "not feeling right" and they're not sure what the problem is, so this becomes part of the work in therapy with the therapist helping the client to understand this.

But for those people who do know what they would like, it's helpful to define the problem and what would constitute success in therapy.  This can help to give the therapy clarity and direction, but nothing is carved in stone.  There's flexibility and there are choices.

In future blog posts, I'll address the other common myths about psychotherapy.  

If you're interested in finding out about the various types of therapy that I've mentioned in this blog post, you can find more information on their professional websites:


About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist,  EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

See my article: Common Myths About Psychotherapy: Going to Therapy Means You're Weak

Also, visit my Psychotherapy Daily News for updates on mental health issues, health education, and science news.