When most people hear the word “psychotherapy”, they think of hour long sessions with a therapist that can go on for months and months. There is good basis for these assumptions as psychotherapy has taken this form for over one hundred years. Many therapists use this model of sessions that go on for a very long duration of time due to tradition and the notion that phobias and other mental disorders take time to treat, just like many other physical injuries. These therapists are using one of the most common therapy techniques in the world: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is, in its most basic form, talk therapy. Patients participate in confidential conversations with licensed therapists and work through mental problems that they are experiencing. CBT can be used to treat phobias and numerous other mental conditions through subcategories of CBT as well, such as exposure therapy. Exposure therapy introduces patients to the source of their phobia (such as a spider) and then the therapist helps them to overcome their fear in a controlled environment. One advantage of CBT is that it can be used to treat a person with multiple mental disorders without forcing them to see multiple separate specialists. Typically CBT and its subcategories take between five and twenty weekly session which poses two main problems.
The first problem is cost. The price of a trained therapist varies extensively based on experience and education and can range anywhere from $50 to $240 for a one hour session. However, the bottom line is that the more times a patient visits a doctor, the more the cost. If, for example, a patient needed twenty CBT sessions to treat their phobia, this patient could pay $4,800 for their therapy. The second problem is time. Many patients are working people or school aged children who are unable to make a commitment to attend regularly scheduled therapy for five months. These two factors exclude many people from getting the help that they need.
However, not everyone believes that these challenges are simply inherent in psychotherapy. Dr. Ollendick, the director of the Child Study Center at Virginia Tech, has been exploring with short sessions of CBT for twenty years. He provides three hour sessions for patients suffering from specific phobias and has achieved results comparable to those of traditional CBT. He says that many patients with specific phobias simply adapt their lives to accommodate for their phobias due to the inconvenience of long term CBT which is sometimes an acceptable option, but with many social phobias the patient’s quality of life is seriously compromised. Hence, three hour sessions to overcome a phobia provides the immediate relief that a person may be in desperate need of if the suffer from claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces) and are about to start a new job in a building with an elevator. Other doctors feel that treatments need to take a few days, but there is an increasing trend among doctors and therapists to try to keep the time and cost down for psychotherapy so that more patients can get more immediate relief.
Works Cited–Link to Now Comment sources is in title if applicable.
“Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 Mar. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610\.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Types of Psychotherapy.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/types-of-psychotherapy.
“How Much Does Therapy or Counseling Cost?” Depression RSS2, depression.informedchoices.ca/types-of-treatment/counseling-or-therapy/how-much-does-therapy-or-counseling-cost/.
Wallis C. Psychotherapy in a Flash. Scientific American. 2019;320(4):20. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=135327795&site=ehost-live. Accessed April 8, 2019.