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Do I Need More Than One Session With A Psychologist?

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

One session

One of the most common questions that people have about going to therapy is, “How long will it take?” Is one session enough?” The answer is different for everyone and every situation.

Think of your mental health like your physical health – if you have a broken leg, you don’t expect to go to the doctor once and never follow up or go back to get your healing leg checked again. Positive change takes time: check-ups, evaluations, the right approach, and a steady healing process that matches the condition.

Just like going to the gym, maintaining a vehicle, or choosing to eat right, investing in your mental health is an ongoing process that should become part of your lifestyle, not an obstacle to it. One therapy session might give you immediate improvement for a while, but real results mean putting in consistent, sustainable effort.

Why Does Therapy Take Multiple Sessions?

Effective therapy treatments take time and patience to see the best results, because:

1. As humans, we’re usually hardwired to look for quick fixes and instant gratification, which is generally fleeting. Therapy – brief or extended – is not about gratification, but long-term sustainable change.

2. Counselling is not designed to be a miracle cure that immediately changes your life. Unpacking life’s difficulties and building meaningful empowerment is a delicate process that requires time to process and implement change.

3. Usually, the issues that bring us to the counselling chair develop over months and years. A one-off, single session can lead to unrealistic expectations of self and the process, feeling like it’s “not enough” to overcome so much prior trauma.

However, with that said, there are situations where a single session may be enough, and could be considered appropriate.

The Single Session Therapy Model

Single therapy sessions are most effective for solving problems that have already been identified. This is usually a very specific occurrence, happening at the present moment, with a resolution that the client hopes to see as an outcome. Since most problems have neither simple origins nor solutions, these sessions are rare. In addition:

1. Single sessions often do not allow for a therapeutic process to actually do its work, and they can feel impersonal to clients and therapists. The speed of single sessions doesn’t allow for the establishment of a true therapeutic relationship, the setting of goals, or the full effect of possible results.

2. Clients often return for future sessions, anyway. Since there is typically only time to focus on one topic, many clients will often return for a follow-up or to address additional unforeseen issues.

3. Single sessions can limit your potential for growth and change. You may get one new idea for change from that single session, but imagine if you attended 5 or 10 or 26 sessions. You’d be on a different life path altogether!

Each week has 168 hours, and if only one of those is spent on self-care and wellbeing, it is completely disproportionate to other factors in your life. When you trust your therapist to set reasonable expectations about what therapy is, what it can do for you, and how it can help in life, you will see the results – and you’ll see why multiple sessions are not only recommended, but crucial to ongoing success.

If you have any other questions about the best therapeutic approach for you, the team at Flourish Psychological Services is always ready to help you on your journey. Simply reach out and let us know!



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