How Long is Your Therapy "Hour"?

As I travel across the country I meet such interesting people. I get to see unique differences among therapists and how they practice the art and science of therapy.

While therapeutic techniques come and go, the therapy “hour” has been somewhat of a guiding structure and is very common among most therapists. But why? Why is the 45 or 50-minute session length so important? I know that I use that time to “pace” the session. But what if the person needs more time or even less time?

For some years now, we have seen some exceptions to the 45 or 50-minute therapy hour. Many of you do 90 minute sessions or “double-sessions”. But what about people who want a quick session – to get their ‘thinking straight’ – or to help with a particular situation – that may not need (or want) a “full” session?

I believe that as we move into the next phase of providing psychotherapy, we will see even more variations on how therapy is provided. For example, we will see more e-therapy and phone sessions. To be flexible to the changing cultural norms will be very important as the Gen-Y’ers enter our practices. These young people are used to information delivered quickly and in short segments. If possible, they would like it online. They order pizza and movie tickets online. Information is quickly disseminated on cell phones via text messaging.

This will also lead to interesting questions about how to book our schedules effectively. Will we have “online” time-frames booked in our schedule where we are available for internet communications such as a chat session? Will we offer quick 15 minutes phone sessions? Will shorter sessions help those therapists who want to stay at home – for example, moms, be able to make more money because they can do work from home?

I do think the 45 or 50-minute therapy “hour” is here to stay. In many cases it is the most clinically appropriate thing to do. Of course, we must do what is clinically appropriate.

But I also think that it might be in our best interests to begin thinking of ways we could serve our clients even better.

As your e-coach, I invite you to ponder the following questions:

1. What is my therapeutic reasoning for my current session lengths?

2. What is my business reasoning for my current session lengths?

3. Is it possible that I could add more to my menu of services that might serve both my clients and my business?