About Psychotherapy

It's normal for a patient to develop strong feelings toward a therapist. In fact, anger and other negative emotions are a helpful part of a process called transference. As feelings about past relationships surface, the patient may transfer those feelings onto the therapist. Therapists are trained to handle these feelings and will help the patient explore them without becoming emotionally involved. Transference allows the patient to resolve conflicts that may be influencing their emotions.

Feelings of dependency or love are natural as well, since the therapist is someone who is generally available and attentive to your needs. These feelings can help establish trust, but your dependence on the therapist will fade as you become more confident. Ultimately, the goal is for you to become your own therapist, able to handle difficult situations and emotions without the help of someone else.

When Therapy Ends

The duration of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can vary from a few months for cognitive and behavioral therapy to a year or more for psychodynamic therapy. The time needed can also vary significantly depending on your particular situation.

After a few months, you should expect to see at least some progress toward your goals. After your therapy has ended, some therapists will let you call them if you experience problems and may even see you for a short visit.

Some people do become overly reliant on therapy, fearing that things will fall apart if they stop. If you feel that you are not making progress or that you are relying too heavily on your sessions, talk about these concerns with your therapist.

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Published: 18 Jun 2013

Last Modified: 06 Nov 2015