Ever felt that a 10 minute session every day might be more beneficial than a 1 hour session once a week? While a short session cannot dig very deep, it can keep a person on track. One of the frustrating things about counseling is the fact that a client may leave with direction and clarity only to return 7 to 21 days later with confusion. What seems clear in the office becomes foggy in real life. It isn’t that much different from learning a language or algebraic formulations. You think you have it then you try to apply it to a novel situation and you realize you don’t have it quite down.
The phone call session should be short, directed at problem-solving, remembering a previously learned solution, or improving hope and motivation to continue some difficult task. Consider this for marital discord. So easily conflicted couples stay cold and distant between episodes of conflict. Short sessions may help them remember to soften each day and be more inviting of non-conflict interactions.
There is some support for this kind of interaction, though not in therapy literature. The support comes from addiction quitlines. Those who call in and gain support are more likely to remain abstinent than those who try to do it on their own. Sadly, insurance companies do not support this kind of interaction (they do not cover phone sessions). They should, it would likely save money in the long run.
3 responses to “Maintaining progress in counseling with short sessions”
That’s a very interesting concept, and it seems like it could make therapy more effective. It seems like it may be particulary effective for clients who just don’t do so well with a 45-50 minute session, or who have chaotic lives and find it hard to stick to any kind of routine, even showing up for therapy consistently. It certainly seems that allowing a more flexible structure to sessions might allow therapy to be beneficial to a wider range of people.
I can see how this might be good for some people (esp. in addiction), yet a bad idea for others. It can be bad if the client grows too dependent and relies on the therapist rather than taking the initiative to apply necessary coping skills and seek out their own solutions. If clients need to see a therapist several times a week during a difficult season in their life, that’s understandable and temporary. But for most situations, I believe weekly sessions can be very beneficial and effective.
“The phone call session should be short, directed at problem-solving, remembering a previously learned solution, or improving hope and motivation to continue some difficult task.” Having a short call and really focusing in on the issue seems to work great. A long drawn out call can really water down the focus of the entire conversation. Thank you for posting this.