How long does each Counseling session last?

Individual and Couples Counseling | Columbia, Mo

clock on the wall, counseling in columbia mo

This answer varies on the type of counseling you're getting. 

Individual Counseling

If you're going for individual counseling, then your session will last approximately 50-55 minutes. This 50-55 minutes is referred to as a "therapeutic hour." This is standard practice, although some clinicians will offer 45-minute sessions or 60-minute sessions. We stick with the 50-55 minutes and "block off" 60 for each session.

Some of the rationale behind the timing is that therapists need a minute to collect their thoughts, jot some notes (if they haven't been taking them during the session), and 'reset' before their next client comes into the office. They also probably need to pee at some point. We are human, after all.

In some situations, your counselor may recommend a lengthier session (such as 80-85 minutes). In no situations will your counselor recommend sessions that are less than 45-55 minutes. It's hard to get therapeutic work done in a smaller amount of time.

Couples Counseling

Couples counseling is a little bit different than individual. The first three sessions are all right around 85 minutes (just a hair little less than 90) and are focused on assessment. This is because we use Gottman Method Couples Therapy, widely viewed as one of the most effective approaches to couples therapy. Here's a breakdown of what your first three sessions will look like.

  1. Intake Session. You and your partner will come in and your counselor will guide you through a pretty structured session that includes discussion the issues, your goals for therapy, a 10 minute resolution discussion, and an oral history of your relationship, which includes a variety of questions that you'll be asked from you counselor.
  2. Individual Sessions. Your and your partner will individually come in for a 40(ish)-minute session (85 minutes, in total). 
  3. Feedback Session. This is the third 85-minute session. After the first two sessions, your counselor will have spent some time on their end consolidating all of the information they've collected. The third session (feedback session) is where you'll be given the results. It's important to note that your counselor will spend time checking in with you both on whether or not the results 'fit' with your relationship. 
  4. Fourth Session and Onward. All subsequent sessions for couples counseling are the "regular" (for our practice) length of sessions, 50-55 minutes. Although couples can opt to go back to 85-minute sessions, if they feel the need. 

To reiterate, these times are specific to our practice, although you're going to find similar responses across the board. If you're interested in accommodations or have additional questions, let us know!


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