How Many Therapy Sessions Are Enough to Achieve Results?

Recent research suggests that, on average, it takes between 15 and 20 sessions for 50% of patients to experience a noticeable improvement in their symptoms. Studies that offer more than 12 to 15 sessions often show a non-linear dose-response relationship, meaning that there are certain sessions in which diminishing returns are achieved. In online therapy, two 45-minute sessions per day, five days a week, are considered the equivalent of one session. It is rare to see reliable improvement in less than 4 sessions, so it is important to retain customers for at least 4 sessions.

The most common criterion for determining an optimal treatment dose is the number of sessions needed for 50% of the sample to achieve a reliable change in the main outcome questionnaire of the study. When starting a conversation with your therapist, it is always helpful to check in about your progress on the goals you set at the beginning of therapy. Talking to your therapist about your thoughts, feelings, and daily life will help foster connection and trust between you and make your therapy experience more meaningful. The most typical optimal dose range for anxiety and depression is 4 to 26 sessions for those with the severity normally seen in university clinics and private offices.

Group, family, or couples therapy sessions can often last a little longer depending on your needs and the availability of a therapist. Additionally, clients can make a big difference in the number of therapy sessions they need to progress. If this number is reduced artificially, it may appear that there is a linear relationship between the number of sessions and improvement. Longer sessions in these formats provide an opportunity for everyone involved to share their experiences more fully.

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