How many sessions will I (we) need?
The question most people ask when they call for their Individual or Couples Counselling consultation - how many sessions do you think it'll take?
It’s a great question - and I wish there was a simple answer. But of course there isn’t one.
Every person and every couple is unique, they’ll need an individual approach. One size fits all just doesn’t work.
How many sessions with a personal trainer will it take to get fit? To learn a new language? To learn a new skill? It depends on so many factors:
What is your starting point?
What is your final goal?
How much time and energy are you willing to invest into it?
What obstacles do you need to overcome?
Do you have the support you need?
Someone who is reasonably fit might start going to the gym 3-5 times a week and will see the results fairly quickly. But for someone who's only going once a month and does nothing in between - how long will it take them to reach their goal? Never. They'll never reach it because there's never enough time to get the momentum going and to maintain it to see a measurable result.
Couples counselling is not very different.
Let’s see some typical issues we’d address in sessions - and hopefully that would help you see how many sessions are needed.
Conflict resolution. Are you fighting all the time, and what’s the impact? Are you re-traumatizing each other?
Are you lacking communication skills?
Do you know how to compromise?
Do you know how to quickly repair after a fight?
Are you avoiding conflict, so on the surface you never fight, but underneath you feel lonely and disconnected?
Are you having fun together? Are you friends?
How about non- sexual intimacy?
do you know how you are wired when it comes to sexuality, and how to communicate it to your partner (just that is one session)
Are you experiencing problems with desire, arousal, or sexual satisfaction?
Desire discrepancy (one of the most common issues)
Is the problem sexual in nature, emotional, relational or physiological (or an overlap of different issues)
Do you need to work on rebuilding trust after an affair?
Are you able to self regulate and self soothe, to stay calm even if your partner is emotional? (emotional contagion)
Do you struggle with the balance between autonomy(freedom) and closeness(commitment)?
Are you connected emotionally, do you feel like you can share anything with your partner, and do you feel heard?
Do you feel safe in your relationship?
Are past trauma impacting your current relationship and your well being?
Are you impacted by how you grew up and are your attachment styles in conflict (anxious/avoidant/disorganized)?
Impact of kids/extended family/aging parents/grandkids
Other stressors - work, pandemic, health, aging, life transitions (pregnancy, retirement, career change and so on)
Those are typical issues we might be working on in sessions. It’s not by any means an extensive list.
When you go through the list think about if you need help with any of the issues. The more check marks you put next to the items, the more sessions you are going to need. It’s not one session per item either. It takes time to crate a lasting, sustainable change. It takes time for the old patterns to be replaced.
Some couples only want to do a few sessions to learn a few new tools, to work through a particularly challenging situation, to get unstuck. Most couples work with me for 3-6 months. We start with weekly sessions to get the momentum going, we then switch to by-weekly sessions to make sure they have plenty of time to put new skills into practice. At the end, we might switch into maintenance mode and do one session a month, to keep learning, to make sure the change is lasting. And of course there is homework to practice in between sessions.
It takes times to turn things around. But it’s possible, and I truly believe it’s worth it. It’s gonna take courage and vulnerability. You will be challenged and you are going to grow, together. You also going to have fun, to learn a ton about yourself and your partner, and hopefully feel like you had this adventure together that sets you up for a successful, beautiful relationship.
If you are curious about doing the work and want to see if it's right for you, feel free to book your free consultation here.