Short-term approaches often have sessions that occur on a weekly or fortnightly basis, for around four to twelve weeks, although occasionally sessions can occur more frequently or they can be extended beyond the initial 12-week period.
Approaches that are intended to last only a few months are generally more focused on addressing symptoms and helping clients find ways to relieve those symptoms, rather than delving into the cause. For example, if a person has lost their job and they are experiencing anxiety about looking for and starting a new job, then short-term treatment would involve addressing those feelings of anxiety, when they occur, what the person is thinking when they occur and alternative thoughts that can create new feelings that are more positive.
Short-term counselling treatment is usually cognitively focused, meaning that it is interested in the connection between thoughts, behaviours and experiences. Behavioural counsellors will first help the client to recognise and define the behaviours and thinking patterns associated with the problem. Once defined, the counsellor will then provide tools and strategies to help the client respond differently to the problem and behave/think in an alternative way. These kinds of processes help the client take control over their lives and reposition their experiences as positive ones.
There are many different types of therapy that fall into this broad-based category, for example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Most counsellors working with this approach utilise and apply a range of different models, depending on the needs of the client.