When I started my private practice, I saw clients at the frequency they felt was best for them. Some I saw weekly. Others bi-weekly. Even some monthly.
At that time, my therapy philosophy was that the client was the expert on their own life and they knew what they needed from therapy.
I still believe the client knows themselves best. However, I now recognize that a client may not necessarily be able to discern, act, and advocate for their own needs when they first come to therapy.
For example, I had a client who chose to meet every other week due to the cost. Even at the sliding scale rate I offered her (I used to have a sliding scale), she said she could only afford to meet every other week.
As I got to know her better in therapy, she disclosed that she actually did have money. It was just that she felt guilty spending money on her own well-being. She was okay spending money on others, but felt uncomfortable paying for her own needs. She wanted to meet weekly for therapy, but didn’t want to pay for it.
I am not telling this story to place blame on the client. I am telling this story to acknowledge the reality that new clients come to therapists with belief systems and patterns that may prevent them from voicing or acting on their own needs.
In another case, I had a new client request to meet monthly. She wanted someone to “check in” with and keep her accountable.
We met monthly for almost a year. Every session was delightful as I got to hear about all of the updates in her life. With time though, I realized that each session was simply a “catch up.” So much time was spent “updating” that little therapeutic work was happening.
After meeting with her for almost a year, I recognized the beliefs and patterns that were impacting my client, yet we never had time to explore or dismantle them.
I could have continued meeting monthly with the client, just as she wanted. Instead, I took ownership and discussed with her the belief systems and patterns that I felt were impacting her, and that I wanted to help her address them by meeting more frequently.
Her response shocked me. She said, “I'd love to. I didn’t know therapy could address those things. I thought I’m just supposed to show up and tell you about my life.”
Which leads to another key point. Clients often do not have sufficient experience with therapy to know how to best use our time together.
As therapists, we have the experience to know.
After thousands of hours of therapeutic experience, I now require all clients to meet with me weekly for 80 minutes.
Why? Because I know my therapeutic services better than anyone else.
I require 80 minutes because traditional 50 minute sessions simply aren’t long enough when art is involved. I want clients to have enough time to come in, discuss relevant topics, dive into art, process what comes up, and leave feeling grounded.
I require weekly meetings because I know the consistency needed for a client to experience lasting change. I specialize in highly intelligent women who experience overwhelming emotions and thoughts. These women are dealing with beliefs, patterns, ways of being, and behavior that have been present for most of their lives.
It takes weekly, consistent work. Clients inevitably experience setbacks, such as losing their temper “again” or becoming activated and slipping back into a depressed state.
These experiences are inevitable and weekly therapy helps a client to recalibrate and return to the path of healing and growth.
I say MY clients need weekly therapy, because I am solely referring to the clients I see. I am not trying to make demands or rules for the entire therapy profession.
I know my therapeutic work well enough now to know that for the kind of therapy I provide, it takes consistent weekly work.
There are some therapists who provide therapeutic spaces where clients can talk about whatever they want. That is important work.
But that is not the work I do. I am in the work of changing life-long limiting patterns and beliefs.
I put proper expectations and boundaries in place to ensure weekly meetings are possible.
For example, if a client cannot afford to meet weekly, I explain the importance and why I require it. I then provide them with a referral to a therapist or agency who takes their insurance or can provide a sliding scale at the level they need.
Before, I would have agreed to meet less frequently to meet them where they were at. But I am done compromising therapeutic care for money.
Similarly, if a client cannot meet with me due to their work schedule, I will refer them to a therapist with evening or weekend availability.
Before, I would have stayed late to meet with them. But I am done compromising my well-being for others (you can read more about how I set my ideal schedule here).
I want a good experience for my clients and myself - which means weekly therapy.
Interested in weekly art therapy to dismantle the things that are holding you back?