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How much therapy do I need?

I get asked this from time to time by clients, usually within the first few sessions. I thought it would be useful to say a few words about what I’ve found and what the research says…

Most of the clients I’ve worked with so far have attended weekly sessions for around six months. More specifically they attended 20 sessions of therapy, which took anywhere between five and eight months, allowing for missed weeks due to availability limitations like holidays etc. These clients were seen in an organisational setting where 20 sessions were the maximum amount allowed, a few attended fewer (17 or 18) and one attended more (29 sessions). All of these clients showed clinically significant improvement after finishing therapy. I stopped working for this organisation at the beginning of lockdown, earlier this year, when they closed and started offering video and telephone counselling.

I have a few clients in private practice who have been seeing me between six months and a year and continue to attend weekly. A few want to attend less frequently and some more than once per week and this varies according to need.

If you read this excellent article The Tyranny of Time, how long does effective therapy really take? by Jonathan Shedler and Enrico Gnaulati, you’ll find that to be effective you really need to be attending weekly therapy for at least six months to a year before lasting improvement is achieved. In my experience this is accurate; however I’ve seen lasting improvement take less than six months and also have clients who require to work for much longer than a year before being able to sustain changes without therapy.

If you have any questions about this post or in general, or would like to discuss coming to see me or would like a recommendation for a therapist, please drop me an email.