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Individual therapy is a joint process between a therapist and a person in therapy. Common goals of therapy can be to inspire change or improve quality of life. People may seek therapy for help with issues that are hard to face alone.

Therapy can help people overcome obstacles to their well-being. It can increase positive feelings, such as compassion and self-esteem. People in therapy can learn skills for handling difficult situations, making healthy decisions, and reaching goals. 


Many kinds of mental health professionals provide therapy. The standards for becoming a therapist usually depend on a state’s licensing board. Therapists often have a master’s or doctoral degree. They may also have specific training in psychological counseling. Students working toward an advanced degree may provide therapy with direction from a licensed supervisor.

Therapists can have many titles. These are based on their level of education, training, and role. They can work as licensed professional counselors (LPC), psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), psychiatric nurses, or psychiatrists.


Individual therapy sessions often last from 45 to 60 minutes. How often sessions occur and how long they are depend on many factors, including:

          • The mental health condition addressed and its severity
          • The amount of time the person in therapy has had the issue
          • How much the issue affects day-to-day life
          • How much distress the issue causes
          • How quickly the person in therapy improves
          • Financial limitations

Some concerns can be addressed through short-term therapy over a few weeks. However, chronic or more complex concerns can require long-term treatment. Sometimes, it may take more than a year for noticeable progress to be made.