Why are therapy sessions 50 minutes?

Sigmund Freud started the weekly 50-minute therapy session over a hundred years ago, for pretty good reasons.

Some are obvious, such as the hour being a convenient unit of time, clients needing to get back to their activities, and therapists needing to write notes and get ready for the next client.

But that's not all.

There are interesting psychological reasons, too...

Talking about a big problem can bring up difficult emotions. As my client and I take a trip into the haunted house of the painful problem, the time limit reminds the client that we'll soon walk back out. And sometimes the trip is very short; what client hasn't said something of great importance right before the session ends? Perhaps what makes the disclosure easier is the 5-minute countdown to leaving!

The time limit also encourages good use of time. It helps us get to the heart of what's eating at the client, to get to the important stuff, while having a reliable off switch so that the client has control of how much will be discussed, and for how long.

As far as having weekly sessions go, this helps us get to know each other over time, rather than, say, having one or two marathon sessions. I'm also pretty focused on making sure the client is getting the results they're after by coming to therapy. This works better if I can see my client over a number of sessions.

How long it takes to get results depends on a few factors working together. How well we can get to the real heart of the issue is key, and well as using an approach well-suited to the client. How much responsibility and intention the client can put toward improving the problematic situation is very important.

But mostly, it's the partnership between client and therapist, along with the client's personal responsibility, that create a doorway to the client's heroic journey...

But, I don't want to get too deep here. After all, you just wanted to know about the 50 minutes. So let's end for now.

See you in session.

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