I have worked as a therapist for 20 years and I have done things differently than most therapists for the majority of that time. I was taught in graduate school to recommend to every client that we meet weekly for a 50-minute session. I remember looking around the classroom when that was recommended and all of the other students were busy writing this down in their notes. I didn’t write it down because it didn’t make sense to me. How could every person that I see in my therapy practice require the same thing?
When I started working in that weekly, 50-minute format at a counseling center in Pleasant Hill, I was very disappointed by the results. I felt as if I was having a weekly “check-in” with my clients, but I wasn’t seeing shifts in the issues that had caused them distress when they first started therapy. Once we caught up on the week’s events, we had very little time to actually work on the stuck issues. I feel like I had intuitively known that this would be the case, but now I had proof in my own therapy relationships.
Once I was in private practice I lengthened my sessions to 1 ½ hours. This gives me almost twice as much time to work with my clients, allowing us to dive more deeply into the stuck issues. And rather than telling my clients to come in each week, I put my schedule online so they can choose when to come in. My goal is to empower my clients in following what feels right to them in their hearts – not in following a one-size-fits-all policy. Sometimes I have clients who want to come in each week because they are eager for change, but once they start to feel some relief, the sessions naturally become less and less frequent. I recently saw a client who I hadn’t seen in 8 years. She was ready for a tune-up on a few issues. Although I would be happy to see her again tomorrow, I’ll also be happy to see her again in another 8 years. I trust that she’ll do what’s best for her own growth and health.
Another reason that I prefer the longer sessions is that I like to have the option of working with hypnosis or Shamanic Journeying. These are two methods for bypassing the analytical mind and working more deeply with the unconscious. Sometimes our analytical minds are helpful in our personal growth, but other times we can find ourselves thinking about what we SHOULD be doing while we are ACTUALLY doing something very different. This mind-body split is what many people are experiencing when they come to see me. We wouldn’t be stuck on an issue if we could just follow our logic, right? A longer session allows us to work for over an hour on just one issue with the goal of shifting it for good. I love watching someone walk out of my office with a knowing smile on their face – they know that the insights that they gained in that session will allow them to live differently from then on.
I do still offer shorter sessions of 55 minutes. Sometimes people don’t have the time to do a longer session or they want to work in a format that they are used to. But I personally prefer the longer sessions because deep healing requires time, presence, wisdom, and depth. Those things cannot be rushed…