I saw my first therapist in ninth grade when my social anxiety and depression really began to intensify. I don’t remember exactly how often I went, but it wasn’t too regularly – at most I went every other week. I only went during the school year, though, since school was the main source of my symptoms. I didn’t go back to therapy until about two years later, when I fell into a heavier depression than I had ever experienced before. But despite the severity of my symptoms, I followed the same schedule as before – I only saw my therapist a couple times each month and ceased treatment when the school year ended. At the time, going to therapy once in a while seemed normal, but now I see that this was nowhere near the level of treatment that I needed. I didn’t even know that weekly therapy sessions were an option! I definitely would have benefited from a higher level of care.
There are quite a few factors to consider when deciding how often you should see your therapist, such as your treatment goals and the severity of your symptoms, but I would argue that once a week is a good place to start, especially if you’re seeing a brand-new therapist. A good relationship with your therapist is based on trust and communication, and seeing them frequently is one of the best ways to forge that relationship. Your first few sessions are also part of the “getting to know you” phase that occurs every time you meet someone new. The more quickly you and your therapist learn about each other, the more quickly you can dive into the work.
For most clients, weekly therapy sessions seem to suffice. It gives you time throughout each week to put your hard work into practice while regularly checking in with someone who can help you develop the you need to succeed. If you’re in a crisis or your symptoms are very severe, your therapist may want to see you more than once a week to make sure that you’re okay. It’s possible for someone with mild symptoms to succeed with biweekly sessions, but I would encourage most people to go more often if they are able. Two weeks is a long time to go without checking in!
Of course, there are external circumstances that can limit one’s access to therapy, such as time and insurance. Therapy is sometimes perceived as a luxury, but it is an important part of healthcare, much like going to a doctor for checkups. I certainly can’t speak for everyone’s financial or life circumstances, but I encourage you to prioritize mental healthcare as much as you would any other medical treatment. While helplines are not a direct substitute for therapy, there are several toll-free numbers you can call or text if you need immediate support, such as the Resolve Crisis Line (1-888-796-8226), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8225), and the Crisis Text Line (741-741).
I’ve been seeing a therapist every week since I ended intensive treatment for my eating disorder about a year and a half ago, and this consistent care has been extremely beneficial! I’ve overcome many challenges that I wouldn’t have been able to face without this support, and my sessions are something I look forward to each week!
Do you currently go to therapy? If so, how frequently do you go? Do you feel like there are any barriers that may prevent you from getting treatment?