Deciding to see a therapist can be a difficult process. We tend to put it off for so many reasons. Mental health hasn’t been given the same weight as physical health for a long time, so many people still feel stigma about going to therapy.
Family values, cultural ideas, and social opinions can be a really powerful deterrent if mental health wasn’t spoken about favorably in your house growing up. Many clients coming to our therapy practice worry about feeling or looking crazy, not only to their family and friends but sometimes even to themselves. It can be an internal conflict to allow yourself to get the support that you deserve.
When the question of “How often should I see a therapist?” comes up, I imagine what that person might be feeling in that moment. Are they worried that the therapist is going to say that they’re in such bad shape they have to attend therapy every day? Are they afraid they won’t be able to fit it into their schedule? Are they worried the therapy won’t be enough to help them?
I think ultimately, when someone asks, “How often should I see a therapist?” they are really asking, “How long until I can get some relief?”
Finding the right frequency is crucial to ensure progress and meaningful results. In this article, we’ll explore the factors influencing treatment frequency, the benefits of regular therapy, signs that you may need to see your therapist more often, and how to have an open conversation about frequency with your therapist.
How Often Should You Go To Therapy? – Factors to Consider
How often you should see your therapist depends on several factors. These include the severity of the issue, the kind of treatment your therapist recommends, your personal schedule and availability, financial considerations, and long-term versus short-term goals.
When you first start therapy, your therapist will mostly be trying to learn about you. They’re trying to get an understanding of how you experience the world, what your primary concerns are, and formulating an approach to help you start to feel better. The first 3-4 sessions are focused on this process. You’re building a relationship with the therapist and clarifying your goals.
Your therapist will build a treatment plan with you, one that includes your concerns, goals, objectives, and the approach your therapist will use to facilitate your progress and healing. During this time, you’ll be able to figure out how often you’ll want to see the therapist.
Start with weekly therapy sessions, then discuss how often you should go with your therapist.
I almost always recommend coming weekly for the first 6-8 weeks or so in order to build some momentum toward achieving the goals set in your treatment plan. This plan is revisited regularly throughout your treatment as you make progress and feel better.
During each revision of your treatment plan, you can check in with yourself and your therapist about how often you want to see them. Therapy is a fluid process, it’s not set in stone, people are dynamic, our lives evolve and circumstances are constantly changing, your therapist is responsible for monitoring your progress and helping you stay on track.
Benefits of Regular Individual Therapy
Regular sessions help you create a healthy routine. Remember that you’re making big changes in your life and thinking about things differently, and that deserves a safe space for exploration, support, and growth. Some benefits of regular therapy include:
- Consistent progress and momentum in your therapeutic journey.
- Emotional support and the development of coping skills to navigate life’s challenges.
- Increased self-awareness and a deeper understanding of yourself.
I heard a great analogy recently about the importance of starting off on the right foot in therapy.
Imagine that you buy a car and you take it on a road trip. A few miles in, you notice your windshield wipers are broken, so you take it to the shop, they fix it, and you head back out onto the road. Then, you realize your tire is flat, so you go to another shop and fix that.
A few miles later, it’s your battery. You go in, and they give you a new one. You’re basically just handling everything as it comes, never looking over the whole car to see what else might be going on and getting a good tune-up.
This is a very expensive and time-consuming way to do things.
Committing to therapy with a good therapist is like taking the car in before you start your road trip, getting it all checked out, and figuring out which things you want or need to address and in what order, so you’re not just waiting for the next thing to come up.
You are taking a proactive approach to your health by building a good foundation for treatment. Those first few sessions are critical in getting the bigger picture, understanding what the problems are, and creating a plan to start solving them based on root causes.
When you start out this way, your therapy will be much more effective and less expensive in the long run because you’re working off of a consistent and clear plan rather than just managing one crisis at a time.
Signs You May Need More Frequent Sessions
There may be times when you require more frequent therapy sessions.
Some signs that indicate a need for increased frequency include intensifying symptoms or distress, difficulty managing daily life, or a lack of progress. If you’re experiencing a crisis, or if you have a major life change like a divorce, loss of a family member, or traumatic event, you might want to decrease the time between sessions until things stabilize.
Seek the Counsel of Your Therapist When Deciding How Often to go to Therapy
Open and honest communication is the foundation of a strong therapeutic relationship. When asking how often should you see your therapist, it’s important to share your concerns, goals, and any challenges you may be facing.
Collaboratively, you and your therapist can determine the most suitable frequency based on your unique needs and circumstances. If you have been working with a licensed therapist, but you’re not sure what your treatment goals are, you have the right to ask them to revisit your treatment plan.
Your therapist’s only role in your life is to support your progress and healing. It’s not going to offend them if you bring up concerns.
This is your life, your treatment.
You deserve to be heard and validated.
Common Schedules: When to See Your Therapist Each Month
Let’s explore some common schedules your therapist may recommend to give you a better understanding of available options on your therapy journey. These schedules are frequently used in all types of therapy – including in-person therapy, online therapy, couples therapy, and group therapy,
Therapy Twice a Week
Sometimes, the severity of your condition merits multiple sessions throughout the week. Two sessions per week may be recommended for individuals dealing with acute or severe mental health issues that require more intensive support. Seeing your therapist twice a week allows for consistent progress and intensive treatment.
Weekly Therapy Sessions
Weekly sessions are the most common frequency that I recommend. Therapy once a week provides regular support for making progress toward your treatment plan goals. This is especially helpful when just starting out because you are able to get relief from distress much more quickly than if you’re attending therapy less often.
Therapy Every Other Week
Biweekly sessions strike a balance between regular support and flexibility. This frequency may work well for individuals with less severe or ongoing concerns who still benefit from consistent therapy.
Clients that I work with often move to every other week after they’ve seen significant improvement in their symptoms and are continuing to work towards their treatment plan goals.
Is Therapy Once a Month Enough?
Monthly sessions may be appropriate for individuals with milder concerns or those who have made significant progress in therapy but still benefit from occasional check-ins and support.
How Long Do I Need Therapy? Make therapy check-ins as needed.
When it comes to therapy, our goal is always to help you reach your treatment plan goals and feel confident that you can manage the issues in your life through tools like mindfulness and other skills you learned in therapy. When you’ve been in consistent therapy for some time, you may be ready for less frequent sessions.
It’s ok to come in for occasional as-needed sessions when you may wish to talk to your therapist during a particularly challenging time. Your therapist can help you decide how often you should be checking in, depending on your needs.
I’ll usually schedule quarterly check-ins when clients complete their treatment so they know they are not alone even though they no longer need regular sessions. How often you see your therapist at this stage is up to you, but it’s best not to just stop going to therapy. When something is going on in your life or you’re dealing with anxiety, scheduling a few sessions can help.
Work with Your Therapist to Determine How Often You Should Go to Therapy
Remember, therapy frequency is not set in stone. It can be adjusted based on your changing needs and goals. The most important factor in your therapy journey is committing to the frequency that works best for you. Together, we can create a customized treatment plan and schedule that fits your specific needs and helps you achieve your desired outcomes.
When it comes to seeking therapy, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Every individual has unique needs and goals when it comes to their mental health journey. The frequency of therapy sessions depends on various factors, such as the severity of the issue and your personal schedule. Your therapist can also guide you regarding the treatment modalities, such as EMDR, Neurofeedback, or ART, that they’re using to support you.
Initially, coming weekly for the first 6-8 weeks can help build momentum and achieve the goals set in the treatment plan. However, therapy is a fluid process, and the frequency can be adjusted as progress is made.
Open communication with the therapist is crucial to finding the most suitable therapy frequency for individual needs. Whether it’s therapy twice a week for more intensive support or a different schedule, the ultimate goal is consistent progress and meaningful results.
If you’re unsure about the ideal therapy frequency for you, scheduling a consultation with a therapist can provide personalized guidance and support.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and start your journey towards optimal mental well-being. Prioritize your mental well-being because it truly matters. Therapy, when customized to cater to your individual needs, has the potential to be a life-changing journey.