The initial stages of your therapy journey can be full of questions, and many times, the most common questions involve the frequency and effectiveness of the therapy sessions themselves. When starting anything, it's natural to want to know what to expect in terms of results. How many sessions before we see the outcome that we want? And what do we have to do to get it? Many clients ask the same questions and much of this is answered by taking a look at how often you see your therapist.
The general rule of thumb for the frequency of therapy sessions is once per week, especially in the beginning. Therapy 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 will advise no less than twice monthly sessions. Once-monthly therapy sessions tend to hinder a client’s progress and prolong the length of time spent in therapy - it’s simply not enough time and not often enough support to develop significant change.
How long do I have to go to therapy for?
As for how long you may want to continue therapy sessions for, that typically relies on several factors and will vary from person to person. For example, someone that needs support during a big transition may require a different number of sessions as someone dealing with anxiety, depression or trauma.
Your therapist will assess your mental health issues, and together you’ll arrive at a plan of treatment and goals for your therapy outcome. Why you started therapy, how long you struggled with a particular set of issues or feelings, how much they are impacting your day-to-day life, and how motivated you are to resolve them are all components that influence the appropriate number of therapy sessions. Cost, schedule, 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 important to be upfront about how many therapy sessions you can realistically attend on a monthly basis and talk to your therapist about it during the first appointment.
Session frequency also plays a big part in determining the length of therapy. Patients that are able to fit in one session a week with their therapist in their schedule may not need to see a therapist for as long, because it makes therapy that much more effective.
While once weekly sessions are generally the best, your therapist may determine that you could still benefit from less frequent sessions, and biweekly sessions makes sense, or if you require more frequent sessions.
When will I see results from therapy?
When thinking about success rates, there are two important stages to consider: “reliable improvement” and “full recovery,” each one with their own general timeline. While multiple sessions are definitely required, 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 therapy sessions to achieve very worthwhile benefits to their mental health. About 50% are likely to have achieved worthwhile benefit after eight therapy sessions and approximately 75% after fourteen. Full recovery, then, further depends on the depth and nature of your particular situation and varies pretty widely. Weekly therapy can generally help speed up your recovery as the things you discuss during your weekly session with your therapist stay top of mind as you go about your daily life.
As in most areas of our lives, commitment and hard work make a big difference. With cognitive and behavioral therapies, clients who actively work on relevant challenges or homework between therapy sessions, especially in weekly sessions, add considerably to the effectiveness of therapy. Regardless of therapy model, the more you apply yourself to the process, the faster you’ll start to see benefits in your mental health and treatment outcomes.
As far as journeys go, your therapy sessions offer a pathway to better mental health, more refined coping mechanisms and skills, improved sleep - the list goes on and on. Working closely with a trusted 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. Since we are often biased, bringing a neutral party such as a therapist onto your team and following their lead is a great way to bring about meaningful change - you’ll see that a weekly commitment to therapy is well worth the time and effort.
Looking for a therapist?
At reflect, we feel strongly about the benefits of weekly therapy for treatment outcomes. Unfortunately, for many people, it is hard to find a therapist that is available for weekly sessions, especially if you go through insurance, because therapists that take insurance often have limited availability and long waitlists. That's why we match you with therapists that have no waitlists and are able to give you the support you need. We also provide free intro calls with our therapists, so that you can talk to them about your schedule, and get a feel for if they would be a good fit for you. More importantly, we will ensure that you are supported during the entire therapy process. If you are interested in getting matched with a reflect therapist, simply click here to get started on your therapy journey!