Have you ever heard of Brief Therapy? It could be the answer you’re looking for

Recently, there’s been an uptick in people who want to go into therapy but don’t have years, or even months to put into it. It makes good sense because if there are immediate problems that are making you unhappy, you need answers.

Besides, if you are like me, or most humans, you don’t want to wait forever for results. Especially when spending hard-earned dollars. Especially when your heart, mental health, or happiness is on the line. Going into therapy is hard enough, but the idea that it might take years to see results in your mind or life is enough to put anyone off. So, it’s important to know that brief therapy is possible and it can have deep and lasting results.

When you have specific goals, brief therapy can be just the right thing

For example… A few years back, I found myself wanting two very specific things. I wanted clarity around a career goal and I wanted clarity around a relationship. Sure, at times, I discussed the past with that therapist to help frame the present, but I didn’t require years of analysis to get answers, or improvement. I went in with clear questions that needed answers. I made my intentions of what I wanted clear and we stayed focused. We monitored progress and we worked together on how to deal with issues that arose. After a few months, I knew what to do at work and at home and the therapy was complete. I stay in touch with that therapist and occasionally check in, which provides support when I need it. But, in that case, brief therapy was enough and effective.

What is brief therapy?

Brief therapy or Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is a therapy option for people who have specific problems that need addressing in a timely manner. Brief therapy is not meant for analyzing the past or treating ongoing mental illness—it’s for finding solutions to life problems in a focused way. There’s no specific time limit for brief therapy but usually it lasts five to eight sessions. It’s ideal for people who have some experience with therapy, or at least self-help, and are prepared to make changes to see results

How do you make brief therapy work?

1. Set clear goals and know your why

As I mentioned above, brief therapy works best if you have specific goals or problems you want to address. So, first, understand why you’re there and what you want to achieve. If you set goals with the therapist, then you’ll have clear markers by which to monitor progress.

2. For heaven’s sake be present

If you are going to go to the trouble of finding a therapist and starting brief therapy, show up for it. That means, give yourself enough time to get there and not be late and rushed. Pay attention in your sessions and be prepared to be emotionally available. Do your homework if assignments are given, read the books the therapist recommends (if they recommend books), and get the most out of the work.

3. Be honest and communicate

A therapist can only help if they know about everything that is going on. I have a friend in therapy and while she attends regularly, she neglects to discuss her fraught relationship in the sessions. The relationship is what is making her miserable and I assume she’s afraid of discussing it because she will have to make changes. Unless you enjoy handing over money without results, make sure you’re telling the therapist what they need to know to be able to help you.

4. Patience and self love are required

Whoever said change was easy, never had to change. Change is hard. Looking at your life and relationships and trying to make positive change is very hard. If these things were easy, everyone would be happy and in healthy relationships. Make sure to give yourself the time and space to heal as you do this kind of work. Any kind of therapy that is for change and healing is going to be emotionally draining. Take good care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Remember, that change and healing take time. But, they are always worth it.


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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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