Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"How long does therapy take? Do I have to spend months and years at it?"

Watch in sand

Never visited a therapist and a bit nervous about reaching out? Don't worry, you're not alone! 

With the stigma of seeking help being a strong one in lots of places, it can be difficult to discover what therapy involves. 
So I thought I’d explain exactly how I work, and hope it sheds some light on what goes on with the virtual couch.

If you watch television, perhaps you recall that Tony Soprano went once a week for all 7 seasons and Monk went twice a week for 8 seasons.  
Although both Tony and Monk suffered from anxiety, they chatted about life, with mental health practitioners Jennifer Melfi and Neven Bell contributing insight and support.

The people in the films are practicing classic therapy, the kind that was pioneered by Freud in the beginning of the 20th century.  Their sessions are about delving into the deep inner you. I have a few clients who look for that type of support and it can be very helpful. However, the cost of a weekly session for life adds up.

Most of my clients want to make effective positive changes in their lives but they don't want to spend years doing it. And that's what I love to do.

Put simply, Melfi and Bell are big picture philosophical whereas I'm more mental plumber.

It works like this: we pick apart how you're thinking and behaving right now. Then we formulate our goal, working out how you'd like to function ideally. Once we have that, I help you map out a step by step approach so that you can reach your goal.

Although the approach is simple enough, making specific positive changes in your life requires consistent attention and effort. It's like going to the gym: just buying a membership doesn't do much - you have to put in the work.

How much work will depend entirely on the scope of the issue you want to work on and how much effort you put into doing your homework (Yes, there's homework!)

There's no hard and fast rule but after we've had our first proper session, I will give you an estimate of how long I think it will take to get you to your goal.

As this is probably a big vague and frustrating, let me ramble on about some options.

The Typical "Fix Me" Client
Kim Regular puts aside 15 minutes to chat, so we can test the connection and whether we can work together. This is free.

If they sign up, we have a first session. This tends to be a bit longer than an hour because I have to ask lots of background questions. But it's charged as one session, even if we end up talking for 90 minutes.

After this, we have a weekly session for two to three months. During the sessions, we work towards the goal and review progress and hiccoughs. Each session lasts about an hour.

As the end of this time, Kim Regular should be seeing some good progress. Once they are happy and confident that they're on the right track, they go it alone for a fortnight. We check in again, and if all's well, we agree to text each other at the end of a month (free).

In 2019, my typical client had 11 sessions. 

Super Secret One Off Sessions For Senior Executives, aka Consigliere Service
If you like Mafia stories, you'll know that the consigliere is the member of a Mafia family who serves as an adviser to the leader and resolves disputes within the family.  

I have a handful of senior executive clients who book a session every now and again, typically if they're managing a big work transition like a new contract, an expansion into a new market, or sticky management issue. 

As our sessions are secret, they can talk it all through, get some perspective and nobody ever knows about it. 

So, if you're looking for support, know you have options.
Crisis Counselling
Some of my clients are adult survivors of trauma such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, incest, rape and violent crime. If this is you and the acts took place in the past, then please do reach out.
However, if you are in an ongoing crisis and have just now been attacked, then online therapy isn’t a good first choice. 
You are better off going to a hospital or crisis centre where you have medical and legal professionals to support you.
Having said that: if you’re in a place where reporting will land you in jail, or if you are an expat and stuck with professionals where you don’t speak the language, then do contact me. 
I’m not promising to take you on as a client but I’d rather you reach out to someone than cope alone.

If you are in Malaysia, and you need help in a crisis, then you can always reach out to AWAM and WAO.   
These are feminist NGOS but they talk to men too. If you're not sure or shy, just call them up and have a brief chat. They're good people.
Hope that helps!
Image by annca from Pixabay