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Two of the leading factors of why people don’t go to therapy are that the cost of a therapy session is too expensive for their budget, and secondly, they can’t find the time in the day to get a 60-minute session in.
Not going to therapy isn’t a valid option to fix this; therapy is worth more than society values it. So, let me break down the option of cutting the standard 60-minute therapy session in half, to see if it is a smart option for you.
Are 30-Minute Therapy Sessions Effective?
Yes, a 30-minute therapy session can be effective if you have built a solid connection with your therapist. On the other hand, choosing to do a 30-minute therapy session for your first session is substantially ineffective.
Let me explain what happens with a new therapist during your first therapy session.
The technical part of a therapy session is broken down into segments. These segments are not written into your therapist’s course curriculum (that I know of) as they train to become a professional therapist; however, after 300+ therapy sessions, I have seen this sequence repeated time and time again.
- Minutes 1-10: General chit-chat about how your week has been; check in on your therapist as well (polite human stuff)
- Minutes 11-20: Tell them why you are there/emotional struggles/reasons that made you sign up to therapy.
- Minute 21-50: The “therapy” work settles in.
- Minute 51-55: Payment to therapist/plan next session.
As you can see, minutes 1-20 are a pre-cursor to getting into the weeds of your emotions. And I know what you are thinking “Why waste precious time on that pre-amble, I’ll just start talking about my struggles from minute one.”
However, your brain doesn’t work like that.
Think of the start of each therapy session as a warm-up for your brain. Just like getting in a workout, where you need to warm-up your muscles and loosen up your joints, your brain, emotions and confidence also need this.
Secondly, you and your therapist just met. You are staring at a stranger, either in person or on a video call, and because of human nature, it will take some interaction to break the tension to start feeling comfortable opening up to them.
Because of all of these things, a 30-minute therapy session as a beginner is not an effective option for your mental health help.
30-Minute therapy sessions for long-term clients
If you have been going to therapy for quite a while, doing a 30-minute therapy session can be more beneficial than not going at all.
As you have already created a bond with your therapist, cutting down the initial chit-chat can be easier. Also, there are most likely specific areas in your life that you are working on, allowing you to jump right into a past area of focus.
However, your therapist knows best if a 30-minute session will be worthwhile. Ask them at the end of your next session and go with whatever they say.
A therapy session commonly lasts 60 minutes. This is the standard time that a therapist will offer.
There is no standard number of therapy session before it is “effective” for you. You are unique and your mental health struggles are unique as well.
For a lot of people the very first therapy session can leave a noticeable difference in their mental health and emotions in a positive way.
In general therapists will stop the therapy work around 50 minutes so they can give you some work to take home with you, plan your next session and also take your payment.