"I don't need therapy - right?" - Why Brief Therapy Might Be Right For You
There are usually two really common responses when people find out that I am a therapist.
1. They stop talking altogether. They get super self-conscious about every word that they have said leading up to finding this information out, and usually find a way to exit stage left as soon as humanly possible.
2. They tell me everything about what is happening with their family drama, their relationship, or their mental health history, which usually ends with either – “but I don’t need, therapy, right?” or “you’re psychoanalyzing me right now, aren’t you?”
I won’t pretend to know what’s up with those that fall into the first category.
As for the second? I have some thoughts.
Look, I’m going to be super honest here – you will never get me to agree that you don’t need therapy. Because usually if you’re questioning whether you should be in therapy, or whether your thoughts/feelings/actions are appropriate, there are probably some things that you could walk through with a therapist.
Does that mean there’s something wrong with you? NO!
But we all – every single one of us – could use support and guidance to walk through our blind spots sometimes, even if we can’t quite nail down what they are.
In fact, these exact situations are why I practice brief therapy. Because sometimes these situational discomforts, short-term conflicts, or the periods that feel like plateaus or stagnation – they keep us from enjoying aspects of our lives that are otherwise pretty good.
And don’t we all want to put our time and energy towards enjoying the life that we are living, rather than beating ourselves up that things aren’t the way we want them to be?
Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash
What is brief therapy?
I practice Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), which focuses on the issues that are happening right now and how they are impacting your life – rather than digging into past issues as more traditional therapy modalities do.
So generally, clients come to me with a specific agenda in mind:
“I want to get along better with my spouse.”
“I want to leave my job.”
“I want to be able to stick to my goals.”
“I want to lower my stress around the holiday season.”
“I want to make more money.”
“I want to feel confident about my decisions.”
“I want more meaningful relationships.”
“I want to build a reliable support network.”
“I want to take better care of my physical and emotional self.”
“I want to stop comparing myself to other people.”
Clients come with an issue in mind that doesn’t necessarily always fit a “mental illness” narrative, but usually is about a specific stressor that is coming up soon or happening right now.
So those “let me tell you about my mother-in-law” stories that ya’ll want to tell me when you find out I’m a therapist? Building a better relationship with her, setting boundaries with her, or even making a decision about what that relationship should look like – those are all things that, yes, you can (and probably should!) get therapy for.
Brief therapy is for those things that you find yourself complaining about fairly often because they can impact the fullness of your life, but you don’t quite have a way forward for.
I can help with that.
How is brief therapy different in session?
I like to say that brief therapy is looking at the present in pretty intense way. Unlike other approaches to therapy, we don’t spend lots of time on the past, except to recognize strengths and patterns.
Instead, we look at your current life in a curious way, determining what is going right and building solutions together from there.
We challenge, reframe, and process.
We focus on strengths and commit to change.
We move into new areas of growth and life and explore them together.
Outside of Session
The foundation of the work happens in session, but the bulk of the work happens in between.
Because SFBT is usually only about 8-12 sessions, the commitment to the work in between weekly sessions is imperative. Taking time to do assigned tasks, to curiously explore your responses to situations, and to bring a strategic awareness to your feelings are the biggest pieces of the puzzle.
For change to happen, it is because space is intentionally made for work to be done consistently for the time you are committed, not because you’re sitting in a therapy office for an hour a week.
Does brief therapy sound like it would be a good match to help you through whatever is stressing you right now? I'd love to hear from you. You can use my scheduler to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation (linked right here!) or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor serving South Carolina. You can read more about her here.