Do the effects of therapy last?
Therapy is a major investment of time, money, and emotion... so what exactly is the return on the investment?
The insights of therapy are found to be everlasting. Once we know about ourselves, it is not super easy to un-know ourselves. The type of therapy I provide targets the unresolved issues lingering underneath the symptoms that a client experiences. Together, we go to the heart of the matter and look at repairing and resolving the underlying emotions and experiences that are contributing to the discomfort in the present moment.
This type of therapy lasts and it would be unlikely that you would need to re-visit the same part of yourself after therapy ends unless something significantly changes in your environment.
Even then, we often find the change in circumstances reveals to us another part of ourselves we need to work on vs. older work needing to be re-done. This is the reason I see clients (including myself!) come in and out of therapy throughout their lifetimes.
However, our behaviors don’t always last.
Anyone who has tried to implement a new gym routine or daily habit can attest to how hard it is to implement and maintain behavior change. If a client is using therapy to primarily change behaviors and thus “working outside in” to relieve distressing symptoms, we might find that the behaviors regress once therapy ends.
Therefore, my belief about the return of your investment in therapy has a lot to do with what you actually did in therapy in the first place. It’s so cliche, but you will get out of it what you really put into it.
When we do the deep inner work, our sense of “self”, our authentic adult selves, feels steady and strong. This has a natural effect on changing our behaviors for the long-run as we will naturally match our behaviors to the our best selves.
When we use therapy to focus on the “outer work” such as to train ourselves to do behaviors differently, then we have not likely resolved the underlying issues and without the weekly motivation of therapy we have a high likelihood of relapsing into older ways.
This example shows up a lot in addiction work. Stopping your substance use cold turkey may result in sobriety, and you can use therapy for accountability to prevent relapse but the sobriety is shaky. You must get to the underlying issues within your addiction and develop your strong inner self. When you do this work, your sobriety has a way higher chance of lasting.
The new neural pathways you build in therapy will last as you choose use them more frequently to handle your life situations. They become strong, and we integrate them into our thinking patterns to create our new “normal”.
Therapy was hands-down the best investment I ever made in myself. I journal frequently, and when looking through older journals, I can really see the “before” and “after” results of putting in the work and I get so excited when I know I’m working with my clients to create their “after”.