Your therapist really wants you to get better. Seeing you regularly is part of how they help. When considering how often you’ll go, keep these things in mind.
- You are getting to know each other. How long do you want that process to take?
If you are just starting with a new therapist, getting to their office at least weekly gets you the opportunity to share your story, discuss your past and future concerns, and get a plan together. 1 hour goes by very quickly when you are trying to sum up a whole lifetime. If you wait a month between sessions, it can sometimes be tough for you to remember where you left off. Also, if you learn something in a session, it is very easy to unlearn that lesson the more time you spend away from that therapeutic environment/reminders.
- How does your therapist work?
We are able to apply our knowledge and experience to notice things like how serious the situation is, how much time on your own you’re able to give this process both in and out of the office, and what goals are reasonable for the time allowed. Discuss these issues with your therapist.
- What is the most consistent approach for you?
Whatever you and your therapist decide on, whether it be twice per week, weekly, or every other week, CONSISTENCY IS KEY. You are training your brain to break patterns and training your body to take different actions. Think of it as going to the gym. If you go inconsistently, your impact on your body is limited. But if you get on a predictable schedule, your body and brain get used to the rhythm of “gym days” and “rest days” and you are able to stay on track. If you schedule therapy on the same day(s) every week, it’s easier to let your job know “hey I need to leave an hour early on Wednesdays” or to schedule a babysitter with a predictable schedule. If you are new to therapy and trying to remember to do these tasks once a month, often something falls through the cracks.
- What can you afford?
You should never make a decision about therapy based solely on money, but you should at least consider it as one of many factors. For example, do you have room in your budget for the session fee x4 or x5 every month? Many people, when they plan ahead, can find the room in their budget. And if you can’t, be upfront with the therapist you’re interested in seeing. There are options for paying for therapy, some of which I detail here.
Bottom line: Therapy is a regular appointment you have with a professional, but ultimately, it is an appointment with yourself. It is a guarantee that you can get in a quiet place with your thoughts and feelings, and learn new ways of managing life. Once you’ve experienced a few sessions, you’ll realize that therapy is something you’ll want to do frequently, especially in the beginning, and it will make a major difference in the way you see yourself and others. It’s not easy for everyone to make the time, or find the funds, but you are worth the effort to give it a try.
Mrs. Andreana Mabry, M.S., LMFT, is a Black licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in Southern California. Aspiring home chef. Pronouns She/Her. Say hi to your dog for her.
Veterans and Active Duty Military Crisis Line
Rape Abuse & Incest National Network
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Trevor Project