Psychotherapy is not like visiting a doctor. When you visit a physician, you have an illness or injury that will soon heal, and when it does you don’t need to come in anymore. In counseling however, it is more difficult to see a logical finish or conclusion.
Without a clear roadmap, the process of psychotherapy can (and often does) continue of its own momentum, exploring new avenues and issues that may or may not be related to the original problem(s). In my opinion, this needs to be talked about openly and candidly with your therapist, so “therapy drift” is minimized (or pursued, intentionally). This requires establishing the goals of your counseling early on, defining what “success” will look like to you, and then staying on track to reach the objective(s). This is what is called “solution focused therapy.”
SFT does not necessarily mean all things get worked out quickly. Some problems can be addressed briefly, while others require an extended course of treatment. SFT does mean you and I always know what the target(s) are, so progress can be measured and either of us can suggest a conclusion to our sessions.
SFT also means that vague problems in life will become defined more clearly -- an important part of therapy. It is perfectly appropriate for a couple to state: “We’re just arguing all the time” or for an individual to say: “Frankly, I’m not sure why I’m in here.” In Solution Focused Therapy, my first job is to help such a couple or person define the underlying issues that cause the problem, so we both know what we’re going to work on.
As we’ve all heard time and again: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there. Make sense to me.