How it works: How many sessions of CBT therapy do I need?

CBT therapy treatment

When we’re hit with overwhelming feelings, we all want to escape them or at least know when they will pass. The same goes for receiving CBT therapy, whether you have a diagnosis or not. The minute we invest in therapy, we want to know how long the process will take and, more importantly, when we will be better.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. We understand the urge to ‘need to know’ when you will feel yourself again and back on track, but putting a time scale on it actually adds pressure to the recovery process, and it’s impossible to say a specific time frame as everyone responds differently to CBT therapy, as everyone’s issues are unique to them.

Most courses of treatment range from 8-12 sessions. But, we have had clients at Onebright who have received 30 sessions of therapy over 12 months, and others who have gone from ‘severe’ to ‘mild’ on the continuum in just four. This shows that the treatment of mental health conditions are so complex, and really depend on how severe the situation, and how the client responds. 

How much time does therapy for depression or anxiety take?

You have to be accepting of therapy and willing to put in the work for it to have the best effect on your life. It wouldn’t be possible to tell someone how long they will undergo therapy until clear progression is made, and then it may become more apparent when they come towards the end of therapy.

Our advice to those who are desperate to have answers about how long therapy will take or how long they can expect before fully recovering is to not concentrate on this. Instead, put your focus and energy into the process. CBT therapy is a quick and effective treatment for various disorders and emotional problems, but this significantly varies from one person to the next. Patience is key when receiving therapy for any issue. Our minds are very complex and sticky, so particular challenges will require more time, patience, and acceptance.

It’s important to take each day at a time.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the future, thinking about what may or may not happen. Still, for many, this can be a negative experience, as the anxiety about the future can cause present discomfort. This is why we encourage you to take each day at a time when receiving therapy. It’s also important that you understand recovery from any mental health problem is not linear. There will likely be days when you feel real progress, and then you may suddenly feel like you’ve lost all control. This is not the case; we see this as a stumble, not a setback. This is where acceptance and patience come into play and where you should rely on your coping toolkit to get you through the more difficult moments.

How many sessions of CBT do people have?

We do have some average statistics, which may help ease the frustration around the time needed in therapy. Generally speaking, panic disorder, mild OCD and most sex therapy will require six sessions over one to three months, while depression and social anxiety may take slightly longer with 12 sessions over four to six months.

For mild problems or issues that wouldn’t require a diagnosis of a disorder to treat, then online or London/UK CBT therapy could be the right path for you. As techniques learned in CBT therapy can be useful for all areas of life, our online programme will suit those who want a flexible approach to therapy and can chip away at the modules whenever and wherever they like. You will pay a monthly fee for 12 months and have access to a BABCP-accredited therapist to monitor your progress throughout.

“Most of all, therapy has taught me to think positively, be more level-headed, and live in the moment.”

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Learn which conditions are treatable with CBT therapy.
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