How many sessions will this take...
Let us get this out of the way from the outset: no type of therapy is particularly cheap. Whether it be counselling, hypnotherapy, reflexology or acupuncture the hourly rate of improving one's mental or physical well-being is significant. Therapists such as myself are acutely aware of this insofar as most of us have supervisors whom we pay to help us manage our well-being outside of our therapeutic work.
With that being said, many clients ask - and quite rightly so - how many sessions our work together will last. This is a very valid question and one that I'd like to address today. It is my opinion that a set amount of sessions, although helpful as a framework, can serve to be quite unhelpful. This isn't the bit where I tell my clients that they can expect to be seeing (and paying) me for the next five years but it is the part wherein I explain to clients how important it is that they manage their own therapy.
Seeing as I have an office in my home I am able to offer clients the option to opt out of therapy on a particular week or, if it suits them, to have therapy on a Wednesday one week and on a Thursday the next week. For me, this is a vital ingredient which helps contribute to my philosophy on therapy: each individual needs to be aware when therapy is helping and, in such cases, continue to go and, conversely, when therapy is ceasing to be helpful or has reached its objective (in which case one should stop or take a break). In other words, therapy should include an ongoing dialogue, not only between the client and the therapist but also between the client and their conscience. Therapy is about improving the quality of your life and whilst the therapists should be given the opportunity to inform you how long a certain course of therapy might last it should always be adjustable based on how you are feeling about therapy.
So, let us answer the question. How many session will this take?
Let's have a two or three weekly sessions together - let's see how the work is going, let's see how things are progressing and if you like the way that we are engaging with the presenting issue. If this work is helping then I recommend that we keep working together, continuing to set goals and targets. If this work is not helping you then we need to reevaluate and perhaps consider halting it for the time being.
I have worked with so many clients who have been prescribed six or 12 therapy sessions and it is my belief that we need to be, as therapists, more analytical and encourage our clients to be the same.
When therapy is good and is working towards a goal the price is reasonable but never confuse activity for achievement - if the work isn't helping then reevaluate. Generally, therapists aren't looking to rip you off (it is a long 50 minute when there is no presenting issue to talk about!) but I believe that a client should help to decide how long therapy will take by continuing to honestly assess how helpful their therapy is in conquering their presenting issue.
On an occasion recently with a musician, we decided to stop a therapy session halfway through because there was nothing left to discuss. He commented to me that he was going to ask to cancel the session a couple of days prior (because the therapy had already achieved its goals) but that he felt that would be inappropriate to cancel two days prior to the session. This is not true - therapy can end at any time and without warning if the objectives are met and, should you need to come back two weeks later, I will still be here!