How long does psychological treatment usually take?A national research study found that 50 per cent of psychotherapy clients had made some improvement within eight sessions of therapy, and 75 per cent showed an improvement after six months of therapy. Of course, showing improvement is not the same as successfully completing treatment. Most psychologists will tell you that the length of treatment depends upon the nature of the problem, the severity of the problem, and the treatment goals selected. Most individuals complete psychological treatment within three to six months. The severity of the problem also affects treatment length and intensity. (Intensity refers to whether sessions are scheduled twice weekly, weekly, or less frequently. The norm is once per week).
More serious problems, including recurring chronic depression, serious post-traumatic stress responses, substance abuse, personality problems, and ongoing stress responses such as those related to caring for a chronically ill family member, often require treatment for one year or longer, depending upon the severity of the symptoms.
We’ve been having problems in our marriage. We seem to argue all the time. Do psychologists provide marriage counseling?Absolutely. Most psychologists are trained to help couples work out problems in their relationship. No one ever taught us how to interact in a relationship. If your parents had a good marriage, you might have learned to resolve problems using the same methods they used, but even that doesn’t work for everyone. If you don’t think your parents did a good job at resolving conflicts, then your own attempts to make relationships work have been “Trial and error”.
Psychologists can help troubled marriages in at least two ways. First, psychologists can function as mediators, not taking sides, but helping both sides express themselves, to clarify issues and discuss problems in the relationship. Couples often do not do this at home because of interruptions, the children, or fear of starting an argument. Second, psychologists can teach you specific skills that can help you interact in a relationship better. These skills include basic communication skills, assertiveness skills, problem solving skills, anger management skills and listening skills. These two methods can help most couples resolve their conflicts, improve their communication and feel more satisfied with their marriage.
What are the symptoms of a serious clinical depression?A major depression is marked by a combination of symptoms that occur together, and last for at least two weeks without significant improvement. Symptoms from at least five of the following categories must be present for a major depression, although even a few of the symptom clusters are indicators of a depression, but perhaps not a major depression.
Persistent depression, sad, anxious, or empty mood, feeling worthless, helpless, or experiencing excessive or inappropriate guilt. Hopeless about the future, excessive pessimistic feelings, loss of interest and pleasure in your usual activities, decreased energy and chronic fatigue. Loss of memory, difficulty in making decisions or concentrating. Irritability or restlessness or agitation. Sleep disturbances, either difficulty in sleeping, or sleeping too much. Loss of appetite and interest in food, or overeating, with weight gain. Recurring thoughts of death, or suicidal thoughts or actions.
This list is a guide to help you understand depression. It is not offered for you to diagnose yourself. If you have some of these symptoms, don’t focus on how many symptoms you have. Instead, talk to a psychologist about how you have been feeling, to see if he/she can help.