“How many sessions do I need?”

The age old question of “how long will it take” is something that I get asked occasionally. Firstly, I would like to address the concept of “need”. As a therapist, I don’t believe anyone “needs” therapy. I believe that there can come a time when we may benefit from talking to another person who is not a friend, relative or co-worker. My view is that there is no right or wrong number of session to have. One person may decide that a few sessions will help them to clear their minds while another person is interested in long-term goals and personal development.

Some factors in deciding on when to end therapy;

  • Finances – Therapy can be considered a luxury if finances are limited, however it can also be a great form of support to keep one going in the face of hard times.
  • Timing – As they say, “timing is everything” and I believe this to be true. It is important that clients come when they are ready. Are you one who acts as soon as a problem is noticed or do you wait until things are at a breaking point? Whatever your personal timing is is fine, however it will have a direct impact on results. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is appropriate in this case. 
  • Issue – Another factor could be the issue itself. Disagreements with ones boss over a pay rise can may be dealt with over a short period of time. Issues such as long term abuse or long term addiction can be more embedded and may benefit from longer term sessions.
  • Additional support – Working on issues without support can in some cases mean that the process can be protracted. It can be helpful to have a support network.  It is a good idea to access other means of support.  Pinpoint is a great site for additional support services.
  • Compatibility – Finding a therapist that you are comfortable with is important to the process.  We access and process emotional content when we are not under threat with less difficulty.  Therefore having a therapist that we are comfortable is an important factor. The longer it takes a client to feel comfortable, the longer the process will take. Likewise, the more comfortable the better.
  • Privacy concerns – Sometimes clients are concerned about privacy and may not wish for others to know they are attending therapy.  For this reason, I allow enough time between sessions for the next client to arrive in privacy. 

These are just a few of the factors that determine how long that piece of string is for you. Ultimately, having a goal in mind can be a big factor in the time you spend working with a therapist. Goal setting provides structure to therapy and identifies when you have reached a comfortable place to end.

No matter what the reason for seeking therapy is, counselling can be a valuable experience.  I work out of the centre of Exeter in Gandy Street and Pinhoe area, Exeter, which is near Broadclyst, West Clyst, Sowton , Cranbrook and Rockbeare.

Also published with Counselling Directory.