Finding your way to therapy: a guide to getting started

Katri Kanninen

A misconception perpetuated by the media suggests that accessing therapy is difficult. However, the true challenge lies in accessing psychotherapy due to the shortage of trained psychotherapists. So, what’s the solution? Can psychologists, for example, provide effective short therapy?

In Finland, our therapy system relies heavily on psychotherapists. Psychotherapists undergo extensive training, typically lasting 3.5 to 4 years, on top of their relevant education. This training is both lengthy and costly, often funded by the individuals themselves.

In contrast, in many other countries, the system is different. Psychologists or mental health professionals with shorter therapeutic training often provide shorter-term therapy. This is a direction Finland aims to move towards in the future.

What kind of therapy is right for me?

The story of Goldilocks is familiar to everyone, right? Goldilocks wanders into the bears’ house and tests out chairs, porridge, and beds. One is too big, another too hard or hot. Until finally, she finds the one that’s just right.

“The severity of a problem or challenge is essential in determining the type of help a person needs: the biggest and most powerful tool isn’t always necessary when the right one might be nearby and easily accessible.”

The same principle applies to the field of therapy. The severity of a problem or challenge is crucial in determining the type of help a person needs: the biggest and most powerful tool isn’t always necessary when the right one might be nearby and easily accessible.

In meta-analyses, which examine a large number of studies at once, it has been found that about 50% of people find relief for diagnosed mental health problems in ten or twenty sessions. When the number of sessions increases to 30 or 50, the percentage of those who have found relief increases to 75%.

“On the other hand, research has also found that about 30% of individuals seeking help find the assistance they need in just three to five sessions.”

The more challenging and long-lasting the problem, the more sessions are typically needed. However, research has also found that about 30% of individuals seeking help find the assistance they need in just three to five sessions. Additionally, therapy is not the right form of assistance for everyone. Depending on the study, 20-40% of people do not receive the help they need from it.

Who is short therapy suitable for?

Short therapy is suitable for individuals who:

  1. Seek help before the issues become too overpowering
  2. Have relatively limited challenges
  3. Are motivated for therapy
  4. Believe in the effectiveness of therapy
  5. Can open up to the therapist about challenging issues
  6. Are interested in exploring the contents and movements of their own mind
  7. Recognize the impact of their actions on themselves and others

Who can be a short therapist?

Practically anyone can call themselves a short therapist. Unlike the title of psychotherapist, the title of short therapist is not protected by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) in Finland, meaning that currently, anyone can declare themselves as a short therapist. This, however, does not necessarily make it easy for the client.

It’s clear that when someone seeks help, they are entitled to high-quality service. They need a mental health expert with deep knowledge and experience in areas such as the human mind, mental health, and therapeutic processes.

At Heltti, our selected short-term therapists are healthcare professionals, such as psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurses. Most of our short therapists are psychologists. Additionally, we have other healthcare professionals with titles recognized by Valvira, as well as social psychologists. In addition to their high-quality education, all our professionals are trained in short-term therapeutic methods. You can trust that you’ll receive the best service in the field from us.

We have gathered some additional info for you:

Finding the right therapist

  • High-quality education: The therapist has a relevant professional background (e.g., psychologist, medical doctor, social psychologist).
  • Therapeutic expertise: In addition to their background, the therapist has therapeutic expertise.
  • Effective collaboration: Therapy is built on collaboration, so it’s important to establish a connection from the start and ensure mutual understanding.
  • Understanding the core issues: The therapist can identify the core issue and help formulate smart and appropriately sized goals together.
  • Sound reasoning: The therapist provides sound reasoning for how to approach and work with the problematic situation.
  • Scientific foundation: The therapist demonstrates a clear understanding of scientific knowledge about the mind and therapies.
  • Appropriate length: The therapist aims to provide only the length of therapy that the client needs.
  • Progress monitoring: Therapy progress is regularly monitored.
  • Additional guidance if needed: If the problem turns out to be more challenging than initially thought, the therapist addresses it and helps find a more suitable treatment.

You can familiarize yourself with Heltti’s safe and high-quality short-term therapy services here.

Get to know the author:

I am Katri Kanninen, a Doctor of Psychology, experienced psychotherapist, certified supervisor psychotherapist (KAT), and an author.