Most couples have a lot of questions when they think of seeking marriage counseling for the first time. Many of them wonder how long they will have to see the therapist. Every relationship is different and comes with its unique challenges, thus there is no straightforward answer as to how long couples therapy might take. Couples therapy is not a space to get a quick fix, instead, it is a long-term commitment that both partners show toward the betterment of their relationship. However, to start seeing signs of improvement in yourself and your relationship, one definitely needs to take a minimum of 10-12 sessions.
Couples therapy generally starts out with the couple meeting the therapist once a week. The frequency of sessions can continue to change, depending upon the progress and the needs of the couple. The length of time differs for every couple, some couples might benefit from a few sessions while others may need continued and regular support. The couple can work with the therapist to create a treatment plan that fits their unique needs.
The duration of couples therapy varies depending on multiple factors. They are:
- The goals of the couple
In the first session, the therapist will ask the couple about their goals and expectations. When the therapist understands the nature and the intensity of the couple’s goals, it helps them to get an idea of how long the therapy process will take. If a couple has only one or two goals, therapy might last only for a few sessions, whereas if there are multiple goals to be accomplished, it might take longer.
- The intensity of issues being addressed
Couples therapy can help deal with a variety of issues ranging from communication issues to issues like loss of trust due to infidelity. The timeframe of therapy will change depending upon the severity of the issues and also the kind of impact the issue is having on the relationship.
- Individual Therapy
Individual therapy along with couples therapy can help some people. Going through individual therapy can help both partners to become aware and deal with specific individual issues that might be impacting the relationship which might lead to significant improvement in couples’ work.
- Consistency of Sessions
Consistency plays a vital role in determining how couples progress in therapy. Being regular with sessions can help in consistent progress while irregularity in sessions hampers the therapy process, leading to a longer duration in therapy.
- The commitment of both partners
Couples therapy is a process that requires a lot of effort and commitment from both partners. It can be difficult for a couple to make progress if one or both partners are resistant to change. It is important for the couple to work on their relationship outside of therapy. This might mean being open to change and implementing homework discussed in therapy in real-life situations. It can be helpful to discuss any resistance with the therapist so that they can help you work through it.
- The Therapy Approach
The approach used by the therapist can be one of the factors influencing the timeframe of therapy. It might be helpful to ask the therapist about their approach in the first session.
The therapist puts in 50% of their effort along with the couple’s efforts of 50% during the therapy process. They aim to make the couple independent of the therapy process so that in the future they deal with their concerns skillfully and with confidence. A good ethical therapist will be the happiest when their couple does not need therapy anymore! The key is to keep having regular open chats with your therapist about the therapy process, the scope of work, the frequency of sessions, the length required of therapy, etc.
- Couples Therapy FAQs: How Long Does This Take?! (2019, February 13). Colorado Therapy Collective. https://coloradotherapycollective.com/blog/faqscouplestherapy
- Moheban-Wachtel, R. (n.d.). How Long Does Marriage Counseling Take? The Important Things to Know. The Relationship Suite-Marriage & Relationship Counselor in New York City. Retrieved August 12, 2023, from https://relationshipsuite.com/how-long-does-marriage-counseling-take-the-important-things-to-know/
- Schewitz, D. S. (2023, June 30). How Long Does Couples Therapy Take to Work? Couples Learn. https://coupleslearn.com/how-long-does-couples-therapy-take/