Q. I’ve been in therapy for 6 years. I feel like I have made progress, but the thing is . . .I still feel like there are so many issues that I need help with. Is 6 years too long to be in therapy for this? Should I be “wrapping it up soon?” I’m concerned because my insurance company wants my t to work toward termination with me. Like I said, I don’t think I am ready, and neither does my t. But . . . 6 years . . .am I doing something wrong or too slow of a learner, or something? …I fit the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder, but don’t cut or rant and no longer live a risky life, smoke, or do drugs. My therapist says the Borderline symptoms are due to my PTSD. I am on 3 psychiatric medications that alleviate my symptoms somewhat. Along with my husband’s bipolar disorder, he was recently diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondalitis, an incurable immune system and arthritic disease that causes the back vertebrae to fuse together and it destroys the large joints. He is in constant pain and cannot work much at all. I work full-time to pay our bills and so we have health insurance. We are just barely getting by. I guess that’s it. I’m so sorry to sounds so pathetic. I really got on a roll, and I didn’t mean to. I also didn’t mean to make my parents look bad, as they did many nice things for me growing up. I just feel scarred from all my bad experiences. Based on what I’ve said, do you think that 6 years is too long to be in therapy? Should I be “wrapping things up” pretty soon like my insurance company wants me to? I can’t imagine stopping therapy now when, in some ways, I am just working up enough tolerance to get into the really deep work. Many times, I think that therapy is too hard and painful, but deep down, I want to heal and stop being in pain all the time. If you have any comments about this, please let me know. Thanks.
A. When the Pope asked Michelangelo when he would be done with the Sistine Chapel Michelangelo responded “when I have finished.”
I do not think there is any set time for therapy. It all depends on the individual and their specific case. Everyone is different and will need differing amounts of therapy. Maybe in the case of phobias, therapy can be limited but not necessarily for people trying to heal from years of pain and trauma. If you are not done with therapy and feel that you still have issues to work on, then you should stay, especially if your therapist agrees. Six years does not make you a slow learner. There is nothing wrong with this. I am surprised that your insurance company paid for therapy for six years. If your insurance company wants to terminate your therapy but you want to keep going, you may have to pay out of pocket. If you feel you are not done, it may be worth paying the extra money if you can afford it. Perhaps your therapist will see you at a discounted rate.
It took Michelangelo many years to complete the Sistine Chapel. Are we to conclude that he was a poor painter? As long as you are satisfied with your therapist and feel that you are benefiting from your therapy, you should continue. Maybe people undergo analysis for 20 years or more. Some famous persons, such as Woody Allen and Richard Lewis (as reported in the press) have no intentions of ever stopping their therapy (my apologies to Woody and Richard if these reports are incorrect). It is a very complex issue but most professionals would agree that you should continue if you feel that you are benefiting. Good luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Jun 2006
Randle, K. (2006). I have been diagnosed with Major Depression, Complex PTSD, and GAD. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/06/23/i-have-been-diagnosed-with-major-depression-complex-ptsd-and-gad/