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How Many Therapy Sessions Do I Need?

Updated: Feb 8, 2022





One of the first things determining how many therapy sessions you will need is the type of treatment your therapist chooses. You will need 12-20 therapy sessions to see changes from CBT treatment, each lasting 30-60 minutes. Thus, with PTSD, you may need about 15-20 therapy sessions to feel significant improvement.

Not surprisingly, clients also vary widely in the number of treatments needed to make progress. Therapists often recommend more frequent sessions rather than extended sessions when clients desire to break free what is making them feel stuck. For example, suppose the patient's problem requires more frequent treatment. In that case, the therapist may meet twice a week (although this is not the norm and is subject to the availability of the therapist's schedule and the director's assessment and approval). Depending on the patient and therapist's schedule, treatment may take place on the same day and at the same time, each week, or treatment times may vary.

In this example, the administrator's job is at the start of the clinical day, so the therapist can use their peak energy to see clients. Some of the reasons for this timing include that therapists need a minute to collect their thoughts or jot down a few notes (if they didn't take them during the session). It also gives the therapist time to reset before the next client enters the office.

While therapists use many different approaches to harmonize frequency and duration, the norm for individual therapy (i.e., treatment with a client) is a 45- or 50-minute weekly session. These sample therapist programs use a model of visiting 15-20 adult clients weekly for a 50- or 60-minute session. For couples or families, therapists offer more extended sessions, typically 90 minutes. Also, note that 45-minute sessions also allow therapists to meet with multiple clients in one day.

Many therapists also offer longer sessions with new clients. Your therapist uses this time to ensure they have enough time to gather information and ask questions to refine the diagnosis.

People who undergo holistic therapy (such as CBT, Hypnosis, EFT, Reiki) need four to twelve sessions, but more may be helpful. This treatment style helps people find the intrinsic motivation they need to make lasting change.

These therapy sessions help people overcome trauma or take better care of themselves while living in unhealthy conditions. In most cases, therapy ends. However, people with severe mental health problems may need more treatment sessions. Other people have long-standing problems or complicated feelings, and long-term treatment can help them. Other people come to therapy with more complex issues they are struggling with and may need a few months or more to understand and resolve their issues.

You may reach a point where it is no longer necessary to attend therapy, and the point at which this time is reached is likely to be different in each case. For example, suppose you feel like you have control over your issues, even after attending a few sessions. In that case, it may be time to stop therapy. On the other hand, suppose you feel like you still have a lot of unresolved issues. In that case, you will want to continue your therapy as long as you are seeing progress.

Some people ask about monthly meetings. Monthly meetings often hinder client progress and prolong treatment. There isn't enough time, and usually enough support, to make meaningful change.

Worcester's Holistic Health and Wellness focus on result-based Short-Term Therapy. As the name implies, short therapy is limited in time. The average number of sessions varies from one to 25 sessions. Now that you know the average number of sessions for the most common therapeutic approaches let's move on to the number of sessions needed for various mental health issues.

In addition to considering specific mental health conditions, disorders, and experiences, your particular goals for seeking treatment will affect the amount of time you spend in treatment. The treatment method used by the therapist, the purposes of the person seeking treatment, their symptoms, and the history of those symptoms will determine the duration of treatment. A therapist will typically conduct several assessments or assessment sessions before recommending a treatment plan or requesting the time of a treatment trial, after which treatment needs will be reassessed.

In practice, patients and therapists sometimes choose to continue treatment for more extended periods (for example, 20 to 30 sessions in six months) to achieve complete remission of symptoms. They feel confident in their skills to maintain treatment results. Some patients stay for two or three sessions, while others remain in therapy for two or three years or more as they pursue practical goals and skills. In general, each time a patient comes to a session, the patient spends about an hour at Worcester Holistic Health and Wellness.

In general, clients who want to help with more severe problems may need multiple treatments to recover. Sania Mayo, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, compared a therapy program to a high school program where you learn new coping skills and ways to live abundant lives.


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