“How often should we come to couples counselling?”
How Much Do You Want Your Relationship To Change?
During almost every initial phone call with a couple interested in couples counselling, I get asked: “How often should we come to couples counselling?”
It is a reasonable question. People who have not been to therapy before often need some guidance. What I am about to say is general advice. I will preface it by saying, typically, the deeper the issues someone brings to therapy and the longer they have been going on, the longer they take to work through. So this advice is assuming we are not talking about 20 years of betrayal and unresolved trauma.
I meet with clients for a minimum of 1 hour an 45 minutes for the initial session. This is my first assessment and is critical. Ideally we would have three hours together initially, however especially on zoom, and with many people having families at home, I have found that most couples cannot make the three hour session work at this time. So as I was saying 1 hour and 45 minutes is the minimum requirement for a first session. This gives me the minimum time required to get some sense of what is going on and of who you are as individuals and as a couple. By the end of the session more often than not I am able to give you some hope of working together. Depending on the issues presented and severity of concerns, I may recommend weekly or bi-weekly sessions of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Most couples find that longer sessions allow for deeper work and while it is a greater time and financial commitment up front, it saves you both in the long run. This is not an absolute requirement, however, expecting to attend two sessions to solve your problem is not likely to happen. You should keep in mind that although work is being done, typically the first 4-5 sessions are considered the assessment phase of couples counselling. When considering how often you should come to counselling, there are some things to consider.
Most people want to get through the assessment period quickly. Coming every few months only prolongs this. It does not allow the real issues to be addressed. Your therapist needs to understand who you are and the issues you are facing as people. As a client, it may feel as though you have been in therapy for months, however if you are only attending one session every few months, the reality may be that you are only four sessions in after 6 months and you may want to adjust your expectations according to the work you are willing to put in.
There is a certain momentum that occurs at the beginning of therapy, this is productive. Whether you and your spouse end up staying in therapy for maintenance on an ongoing basis or not, you want to use that time in the beginning, to make a commitment to the process. This is the time where you set up good habits. If therapy is something that gets put off and is not a priority, it often falls by the wayside. Much like new year's resolutions.
By starting weekly, you have a baseline to know how this feels for you as a couple and to determine whether you feel that stepping down to twice a month feels right for you based on the progress you have made. The bottom line, it is difficult to make any significant gains if therapy is not a regular part of your routine. This ends up wasting your time and money.
I completely understand people want things to get better fast. Finances are a factor, I get that and therapy is a financial commitment, even if you have insurance, it will likely only cover a minimal amount of therapy. It is also important to consider the big picture in that you may end up coming for more sessions overall when they are more spread out. The biggest risk from my perspective is losing momentum and dropping out of therapy before you have lasting change.
I often compare going to therapy and going to the gym. We don’t expect change to happen overnight, and once change does occur we don’t immediately stop going to the gym and doing the things that made the change happen in the first place. That would seem silly. Therapy is no different. Whether individual or couples therapy. In fact, couples therapy requires more care in some ways as we are attending to the needs and communication of two people and how those needs work together.
These decisions are yours to make, however, I like to make sure people are fully informed and able to make the best decisions for themselves.
Hopefully, this has been helpful information for anyone who has been thinking about couples therapy and unsure about the process or how often they should be going or even those who have been wondering how much they may need to set aside in their budget for this. If you are looking for a couple’s therapist in Toronto and have any questions, reach out to book a free 15-minute consultation. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or book directly at https://kennedymclean.janeapp.com