Brief vs. Long Term Psychotherapy Essay

Sarah El Tuhami Helping Relationships Assignment 3. 4 Professor Harms Long-term vs. Short term psychotherapy Introduction Psychotherapy uses many psychological theories in order to assist an individual toward the resolution of a wide array of problems. Most commonly, psychotherapy is separated into two distinct categories short term psychotherapy and long term psychotherapy. Identifying which type of therapy to use on which individual is a very important process that each counselor must undergo once presented with the specific information, for each individual case.

Short-term psychotherapy Short-term psychotherapy refers to the here and now. The therapist makes sure to address the issues bothering a patient in the present day and advocates the use of personal strengths in order to solve problems that may arise. The focus with this type of therapy is to make sure to understand exactly what is going on inside the patients head, what emotions and feelings the patient may be experiencing and how those emotions may be affecting the everyday life of the patient.

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In this type of therapy, the counselor or therapists responsibility is to teach their patient how to understand and handle their behaviors, thoughts and emotions. This plays a very important part in solving a patients problem and leading them on the road to recovery. Once a patient can adequately respond to behaviors, thoughts and emotions from themselves and others they are more likely to be able to solve the problems that are bothering them. Most of the work in short-term therapy happens outside of the session, which is the reason why weekly homework assignments will be given to patients. Jacobson & Jacobson, 2001). There are specific signs to look for indicating a patient can be recommended short-term psychotherapy. These prognostic signs include having had at least one meaningful interpersonal experience, having achieved success in at least one area of their lives, for example, school, work, or family, and the ability to express their emotions. (Reich & Neenan, 1986). Short-term therapy can last as long as 6 months or up to a year, but it will usually end within the first 4 months. (Peters & Miller, 2004).

Throughout this time, a strong relationship is developed between the patient and the therapist and it is important for the patient to venture out on their own with all the new techniques and information they were taught to use when it comes to dealing with their problems in the present. Long-term psychotherapy Long-term therapy refers to anything that may have happened in a patient’s past that may be affecting their life currently. Long-term therapy creates opportunities for patients to work out issues that are deeply rooted in their lifestyle.

It gives people the time to engage in a journey of self-discovery that can lead them to develop a fuller life of more meaning and creativity. (Peters & Miller, 2004). Therapists focus on getting the patient to talk about their past and specific issues that may be spilling over into their present life. Most of the work that is done in these sessions is to figure out where the patient picked up the behaviors and patterns they may be exhibiting. Once a patient has this insight, it is their responsibility to work toward changing these particular behaviors.

Long-term therapy can go anywhere from a year or longer. Problems that do not get resolved in 10 to 20 sessions are often dealt with in long term psychotherapy. Often these are problems that are more ingrained in terms of our lifestyle or character. Long-term therapy gives us the time to come to grips with and relieve those areas of our life that are painful. (Peters & Miller, 2004). Published in the October 1, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the German study found that compared to the more commonly used short-term therapy, long-term psychotherapy left people better off. In fact, the number of therapy sessions the patients had was directly correlated to improvements in symptoms” (2008). Conclusion and Comparison There are several important differences between short and long term psychotherapy. The major difference between brief (short) term psychotherapy and long term psychotherapy is the length of time each kind lasts. Brief psychotherapy deals with specific focused goals and long-term psychotherapy focuses on insight and character change. (Jacobson & Jacobson, 2001).

In order for brief psychotherapy to be effective patient selection is important as not all patients are suited for brief therapy. Patient’s requiring character change or with crippling mental illnesses need more lengthy therapy. This is because brief therapy focuses on the here and now whereas long-term therapy focuses on a client’s history. (Jacobson & Jacobson, 2001). Many times this history is too painful to be worked through in brief therapy. Brief therapy attempts to restore psychological functioning quickly.

Long term psychotherapy in contrast employs techniques which can cause increased psychological distress and temporary dysfunction. (Jacobson & Jacobson, 2001). The roles a therapist and patient takes also differ between brief psychotherapy and long-term. In brief psychotherapy the therapist is active, in contrast therapist’s in long-term therapy take a less directive role and therapy unfolds as time goes on. Patient’s undergoing short term psychotherapy are assigned work to do between sessions whereas patient’s in long term psychotherapy are typically not assigned work to be done between sessions.

Patient’s in long term therapy need a more lengthy time spent in counseling. Summing up, the majority of patients with acute distress benefit significantly from short-term psychotherapy, whereas for many patients with chronic distress and for the majority of patients with personality disorders, short-term psychotherapy seems not to be sufficient. (Leichsenring & Rabung, 2011). References Gordon, S. (2008). ScoutNews, LLC. Retried from http://news. health. com/2008/10/01/psychotherapy-works-best-over-long-term/ Leichsenring, F. & Rabung, S. (2011).

Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy in complex mental disorders: update of a meta-analysis. Retrieved March 25, 2013 from http://bjp. rcpsych. org/content/199/1/15. full Jacobson, J. & Jacobson, A. (2001). Psychiatric secrets (2nd ed. ). Hanley & Belfus, Inc. Peters,G. Ph. D. & Miller, M. Ph. D. (2004). Brief vs. Long Term Therapy. Retrieved March 25, 2013 from http://www. therapyinla. com/articles/article1204. html Reich, J. , & Neenan, P. (1986). Principles common to different short-term psychotherapies. American Journal Of Psychotherapy, 40(1), 62-69.


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