Time-Limited Psychotherapy: Hidden Effects

By R. Hidalgo

(Copyright (c) R. Hidalgo, 2000; Aug. 2000, Origin. Engl. article)

In this article the effects, primarily unconscious, of a twelve-session-per-academic-year limit on university students receiving psychotherapy from a student health clinic are reviewed.  Langs's method of decoding the derivative communication of patients was implemented, using the forced termination as a primary context requiring students' adaptation.  A ubiquitous presence of negative effects is listed and elaborated in the paper.  These effects generally complicated the benefits and symptom relief derived by students, rather than totally negated any benefit to them.  The expectation that only a minority of patients in "indefinite term" psychotherapy stays longer than twelve sessions when allowed free choice was verified by local data.  This led to the final proposition and eventual decision to eliminate the forced termination.