“The infrequency of sessions impacts momentum for change”Natori Walters
After attending weekly sessions for some time, families, or even clients, may desire to make a change to bi-weekly. However, how early is too early to switch up the frequency of sessions? And what aspects should be considered before making this kind of request?
Why Weekly Is Important
In the early stages of treatment, weekly appointments are best practice. They provide the support needed to help clients meet their treatment goals. Therapists usually suggest bi-weekly appointments once an individual has made progress on their goals. They also monitor if their client has shown an ability to utilize skills developed over time during the therapeutic process. Switching the frequency of sessions too soon impacts clients because it allows too much time to have passed by in between sessions. Therefore, it often creates a sense of “starting over” each week. This makes it difficult for clients to track what they have previously learned or discussed. Weekly skill building and reinforcement are crucial to maintaining evolving therapeutic concepts and rapport.
What Warrants Bi-Weekly?
Clinicians consider several things before recommending bi-weekly sessions to a client. Oftentimes, how long the individual has been in therapy is imperative. It is also important to consider whether any significant progress towards their outlined treatment goals has been made. When clients indicate to their clinician, parents, and even themselves that they can handle their symptoms independently, that is a significant factor that dictates whether or not they are ready to transition to bi-weekly or monthly meetings. When individuals consistently display progress and growth in various areas of functioning, it is a huge indicator of positive change that warrants variation in sessions.
Why Your Child May Request Bi-Weekly
Avoiding Complex Feelings
When your child requests bi-weekly sessions, there is a considerable benefit to communicating and processing the reasoning behind their request. Something to keep in mind is a common motivator for a client personally requesting a change in frequency. It is not uncommon for clients to experience discomfort in the therapeutic process when complicated topics come to the surface and challenges arise. Individuals may want to shy away from the experience to avoid facing hard emotions or addressing hurdles in their progress. Creating distance between themselves and their therapy can reinforce their desire to discontinue treatment altogether or continue patterns that perpetuate their presenting concerns.
Client and Clinician Rupture
Should a rupture occur between the client and clinician that leads to the client’s request to decrease sessions, it is essential to have clear communication for the rupture to be repaired. If the rupture goes unacknowledged, it could greatly impact the quality of sessions and their overall progress despite being switched to bi-weekly.
Focusing Time Elsewhere
Often, children’s requests may stem from their desire to do something else with their time entirely. In these situations, offering an alternative time may be the best resolution to keep the individual engaged and content with allowing space for other interests.
As clinicians, our desire is to help bring about change as soon as possible. At IFC, we also strive to provide the best support and accommodate all needs. With this in mind, there are absolutely other factors that would warrant a change in frequency. We certainly see and acknowledge individuals who quickly make progress and can switch to bi-weekly as continued support that best suits their present needs. Ultimately, it is important to discuss this aspect of treatment with your clinician to make the best-informed decision for your child.