Traditionally, the standard “therapeutic hour” lasts for 45 or 50 minutes. This practise is believed to date back to Freud, and there are many reasons why sessions rarely exceed 50 minutes: for the therapist to recharge and maintain emotional distance, for the patient to avoid over-exposure to difficult emotions, and to have enough time to discuss all concerns in detail. However, shorter sessions are also possible. In fact, there are many cases when 30-minute sessions are just as effective, and you can get the same great benefits, but spend less time and money on them.
Online individual therapy sessions take place in the comfort of your home, just between you and your therapist. As always, confidentiality is guaranteed, and you can count on the same high levels of professionalism as in the case of in-person sessions.
As a general rule, the length of the therapy sessions should be established with your therapist, depending on your requirements, concerns, the severity of your mental health issues and for how long you’ve had them. Some people respond well to these short sessions, others may need 45 minutes or a full hour to get the best results.
Here are some of the situations when therapists may recommend short therapy sessions:
Therapy is essential for children and adolescents who are struggling with stress, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health disorders. However, maintaining a young person’s focus for almost an hour can be difficult, and it can even become emotionally draining. Meanwhile, shorter sessions keep them engaged from beginning to end, and help them feel good about their progress.
There are many ways in which college students can benefit from therapy: it can help them cope with exam stress, peer pressure, low self-esteem, negative thoughts, and more. However, the schedule of the average college student can be quite hectic. In between classes, exams, extracurricular activities, going out, and part-time jobs, it can be hard to fit in a classic 50-minute session. Shorter, 30-minute sessions offer much more flexibility and, since they are held online, you don’t even have to leave campus.
These are also called “check-in sessions”. For example, you may already have scheduled conventional 45 or 50-minute sessions every week but, in between those sessions, you want to have a quick talk to your therapist to make sure you’re making progress, or talk about something unexpected that happened. If your therapist can recommend extending the duration between sessions, these short sessions can help you make a seamless transition.
As you are approaching the end of therapy, you may not need as much guidance as in the beginning, so you can shorten the session.
We all encounter difficulties in our daily lives. When they occur, they might not be as serious as to require long-term, one-hour long sessions, but you’d still benefit from a short talk with a therapist who can help you overcome these difficult moments. Short sessions are perfect for this scenario when you don’t need an hour to discuss your concerns.
Are you seeking therapy for the first time or you want to change your therapist? Having a short session with multiple professionals gives you a chance to know what to expect and choose someone you’re 100% comfortable with. Since the sessions are held online, you won’t have to worry about driving to separate therapist offices.
Are you on vacation or on a business trip and don’t have time for your usual therapy sessions? Short online sessions ensure treatment continuity, and you can get to check in with your therapist when you need someone to talk to.
In general, short therapy sessions are recommended for individuals, not couples, because 30 minutes isn’t usually enough for both partners to communicate. That being said, short therapy sessions for couples can be recommended at the end of therapy, or when you’re certain you’ll only cover one punctual topic.
Apart from the fact that they’re convenient, short therapy sessions can be more effective than standard length:
Don’t let their short duration fool you; you can make great progress during a shorter therapy session. Although 45+ minutes have been the standard for many years now, scientists are beginning to explore the potential of shorter sessions, especially in children, adolescents, and people who are struggling with anxiety and behavioural problems. These sessions might not apply everywhere, (for example, in the case of more complex problems such as substance addiction or PTSD, they might not be enough), but this “bite-size” approach has an important place in modern psychotherapy.
If you cannot fit longer sessions into your schedule, or you simply want to see what short online therapy sessions are like, ask your therapist if they offer them or browse our list of available therapists who offer this format. No matter which format you prefer, you can choose from hundreds of accredited professionals on UK Therapy Guide.
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