How much therapy will I need?

This issue can be of great concern for clients who are wondering what the commitment may be in terms of time as well as money.

Researchers have been unable to identify exactly how many sessions each individual client presentation may need in order to show improvement but they have been able to give guidance on what is required more generally.

Modern research indicates that the number of sessions required for fifty percent of clients to meet the criteria for significant improvement is somewhere between 10 & 20  ***

Irish research from UCD indicates 20-45 sessions are required for 50-75% of clients to sufficiently improve to meet the criteria for recovery.

…There is a very significant and growing body of research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy, and recent studies offer compelling evidence that long-term, in depth psychotherapy provided significant improvement in general and specific symptoms (somatic, depressive and anxiety), and that the improvement not only tended to endure, but increased on long-term follow-up.

Results of recent studies in Ireland (2007) find that…

  • Effects of psychotherapy double the effect of placebos
  • 3 out of 4 psychotherapy clients fare better than 75% of patients who get no treatment.
  • Patients who avail of therapy were found to use fewer medical services in general at primary, secondary and tertiary levels including a reduction in levels of hospitalization and/or use of A&E departments.
  • At the end of psychotherapy, the average treated patient is better off than 80% of untreated patients..
  • Long-term treatment led to considerable better outcomes than short-term…’

(text drawn from ICP report on the efficacy of psychotherapy treatments)

Ultimately a variety of factors affect the length of therapy required such as the nature of the issue  and the goal(s) the client has in mind.  It is worth noting these often  emerge and evolve once therapy has begun.

It has been demonstrated that a successful course of psychotherapy can be more cost effective than medication or short term counselling especially in the context of mitigating the risk of relapse.

*** This information comes from Professor Mick Cooper’ s (2008) work in Essential Research findings in Counselling & Psychotherapy