How long and how often should I be seen? 

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These are understandable questions; therapy is a commitment of time, money, and emotional resources. While we genuinely wish this weren’t the case, our experience tells us there are no clear answers to these questions. That being said, we can provide some general guidance.

First, we’d like to address why these questions are difficult to answer.

Therapy is a Unique Experience

Unlike other medical procedures or interventions, therapy is highly personalized. It varies depending on the client’s symptoms, goals, motivation, and personality. Psychotherapy is also influenced by the knowledge, skill, and personality of the psychologist. Finally, therapy is influenced by the unique relationship between the client and the therapist. In other words, no two therapeutic experiences are the same.

Goals Evolve

When clients come to therapy, they may or may not have initial goals in mind. Even when they do, their goals often change. A client’s goals may change because we, as psychologists, share observations and ideas that may not occur to a client initially. For example, a client may not say she wants to work on developing better boundaries, but we might present this as a potential goal after a few sessions. A second reason goals may change is because clients become more comfortable as therapy progresses. In the beginning, a client may say he wants to work on “worrying less,” and only later acknowledge having experienced traumatic events that may play a role in his anxiety. In therapy, the road map unfolds as the journey progresses.

Getting to Know You Takes Time

As therapists, we don’t have access to x-rays, lab results, and purely objective measures of who you are and how you’re doing. When we meet with clients, we listen to verbal and non-verbal communication. We listen to what’s said, what’s not said, and what longs to be said. We gather this information over time, not in a single hour. You are more than the sum of your parts; our intention is to know you well so we may serve you well.

Now, for our best answers:

How long should I be seen?

Therapy can be short-term or long-term, depending on your needs and goals. If you know up front that you only have resources for a certain number of sessions, we can often work with that. If so, we’ll likely help you identify one particular goal to target in our work together.

How often should I be seen?

Therapy can occur weekly, every other week, or monthly. For clients who are able to attend sessions weekly in the beginning, this helps the therapeutic relationship develop more quickly and lends to greater momentum. From there, clients often taper their sessions to every other week or every few weeks.  Occasionally we make strong recommendations, and other times we defer to what works best for you.

How is duration and frequency determined?

During your initial assessment, it’s helpful for us to learn more about your symptoms, your past and current life experiences, and your goals for therapy. This leads to a more precise conversation about how long and how often to be seen in therapy.