How to know how many sessions you will need.
Before You Book Your Next Session
It’s best practice to book ahead 4 – 6 sessions in advance, even if you are just meeting with me once. You can easily cancel your appointments up to 4 hours before.
If someone else pre-books ahead in your preferred time-slots, it can mean you might struggle to find a session time that is perfect for you both. Regardless of how many sessions you think you will need, it’s helpful to you to book ahead 4 – 6 sessions.
You do not need to pay for them all in advance. However, you do need them available to you. Pre-booking is the best way to assure you get that best time-slot.
How Many Sessions Will I Need
The initial stages of your couple-work journey can be full of questions, and many times, the most common questions involve the frequency and effectiveness of the sessions themselves.
When Starting Couple Work
When starting anything, it’s natural to want to know what to expect in as results. How quickly will we see the outcome that is hoped for? And what do we have to do more to get it? Much of this is answered by taking a look at the frequency of your couple-work sessions.
The general rule-of-thumb for the frequency of sessions is once per week, especially in the beginning. Couple work requires a concentrated effort on a consistent basis to realize the fullest benefits from the therapeutic relationship – in other words, it takes work to get good results.
If that’s not possible, many therapists, couple coaches and relationship counsellors will advise no less than twice monthly sessions. Once-monthly sessions tend to hinder a client’s progress and prolong the length of time spent in couple therapy – it seems not enough time and not often enough support to develop significant change.
As for how long you may want to continue sessions for, that relies on several other factors. Your therapist will first assess your issues, and then together you’ll arrive at a plan of treatment and goals for your therapy outcome.
How long you struggled as a couple with a particular set of issues or feelings, how much they are impacting your day-to-day life, and how motivated you both are to resolve them are all components that influence the appropriate number of therapy sessions.
Cost, Covid level, scheduling availability and transportation can all be important factors as well, and should be considered in advance as you work out your overall ability to commit to your therapeutic process.
To that end, it’s helpful and important to be upfront about how often you can realistically attend your sessions.
When thinking about success rates, there are two important stages to consider: “reliable improvement” and “full recovery,” each one with their own general timeline.
- Reliable improvement
- Full recovery
Reliable improvement – meaning noticeable positive effects – has been found to be achieved in a relatively short amount of time.
According to research, quite a few clients (about 30%), may only need three or so sessions to achieve very worthwhile benefits. About 50% are likely to have achieved worthwhile benefit after eight sessions and approximately 75% after fourteen. Full recovery, then, further depends on the depth and nature of your particular situation and varies pretty widely.
As in most areas of our lives, commitment and hard work make a big difference. With cognitive and behavioral therapies like the relationship tools we practice in the sessions, clients who actively work on relevant challenges or homework between therapy sessions add considerably to the effectiveness of therapy.
The more you apply yourself to the process, the faster you’ll start to see benefits.
15 minutes a day, on most days, can be enough homework to make a huge difference in the relationship.
The Path to Better Relationship Health
As far as journeys go, your therapy sessions offer a pathway to better relationships health. They offer more refined coping mechanisms, improved sleep, happier couple conversations – and the list goes on and on.
Working closely with a trusted couple therapist that is a good fit for you in weekly sessions can bring out noticeable improvements rather quickly when you consider how long you may have been living without therapy and trying to handle everything yourself.
So bringing a counsellor, couple communication coach or relationships therapist onto your team and following their suggestions for improvement can be a great way to bring about meaningful change – you’ll see that a weekly commitment is well worth the time and effort.
Book 3 or 4 weeks ahead
In my practice it’s helpful to book some sessions 3 or 4 weeks ahead so you keep your weekly time. You can always cancle with as little as 24 hours notice, so booking 4 weeks ahead makes sense.
By Henk Ensing,
Rock Solid Relationships, Hamilton.