How Many Sessions Are Required for Couples Counseling?

If you and your spouse or partner are thinking about receiving couples counseling, you may wonder how many sessions you will be required to attend. Although it is a fair question to ask, there is unfortunately no generic answer. The amount of time needed for therapy and the number of sessions required depends on many factors related to your particular situation, as well as to your counselor or therapist. Some couples are able to resolve their issues in as little as four sessions, while others require 16 or more.

Therapy should always focus on solutions instead of rehashing old problems. A good counselor should have a specific strategy in mind and direct you and your partner toward certain goals. Progress in therapy sometimes happens incrementally and is not easy to gauge, but if you have been going to counseling for months (or years) and feel that you haven’t made any progress whatsoever, it may be necessary to seek out a new counselor.

Couple-Based Factors

Some of the factors that determine how long counseling should last pertain to you as a couple are as follows: 

  • Commitment to the Process- You get out of counseling what you put into it. If you and your partner are conscientious about attending sessions on a regular basis (usually weekly) and diligent about absorbing what you learn and then putting it into practice, the process can progress more quickly. Again, however, there are no guarantees or set limits.
  • Ambivalence About the Relationship- Counseling is more effective when both partners feel strongly about wanting to repair and preserve the relationship. However, it is fairly common for either or both partners to be of two minds about the relationship, unsure whether they want to abandon it completely or stay and work things out. Because couples counseling is strongly goal-oriented, any ambivalence must be resolved before progress can take place.
  • Learning Style- Some couples are active learners, meaning they engage fully with the process. Other couples are more passive, open to listening but unmotivated to follow through. Active, engaged couples are more likely to move through therapy quickly.

Counselor-Based Factors

A counselor should also use an evidence-based model in working with couples. This means that scientific testing has confirmed the model’s effectiveness. Unfortunately, many counselors who provide couples therapy do not have specific training because not all counselor training programs require it. Many counselors have only learned how to work with couples through experience in the field, while others are still figuring it out.

Before seeing a couples counselor, it is a good idea to ask specific questions about his or her training and experience, as well as the model he or she uses. Contact a skilled couples counselor, like a couples counselor in Palatine, IL, to set up a consultation today. 

Thanks to Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into how many sessions are required for couples counseling to begin to work.