An otherwise healthy couple might start with two-hour sessions once a week, and need a month or two to make significant and lasting changes in relational patterns. Yet, when there has been substantial damage to the relationship, couples usually find it helpful to attend regularly for several months, and then have occasional maintenance sessions.
Research shows that “intensives” (such as all-day sessions for a couple of days) can also be effective, so let me know if you prefer that.
We will make a plan and regularly review our progress together. Some factors that would imply longer sessions, more frequently, and for a longer period, would be (for either partner):
Often such complicating factors do not come to light right away, so the schedule of therapy may need to be adjusted to ensure you’re getting enough to make it worth the time and expense.
You are free to discontinue the process at any time. However, it is wisest not to quit too soon, before benefits begin to be seen. Conversely, sometimes people to quit prematurely when they are encouraged by initial improvements, even though those have not set in well enough to endure when challenging times come later.
This is a multi-step process for each of you: to accept a need for change, understand your problems, discover hope and courage, learn new attitudes, and practice new behaviors till they come easily. The length of time required is more dependent on you and your situation than on us.
People sometimes get stalled temporarily or become impatient along the way. But perceived progress is not linearly related to the amount of time or money spent. Think of a house under construction. The foundation alone doesn’t provide much shelter. Though the roof is on, it’s pretty cold without the windows. It might not even look liveable without the carpet. But it would be a shame to walk away when it is half-built.
I will work as quickly as you both will permit. Truthfully, though, a great risk with this kind of couples process is that the therapist moves too quickly and leaves one or the other partner behind, disenchanted, discouraged, disgruntled, resentful, or jumping ship, claiming that “It isn’t working”. Rushing through the process could be a waste of your time and money, and result in a serious setback for you or your partner.
If a practitioner claims to make very rapid progress, beware that they can always claim that “You didn’t do the work needed” or “You weren’t ready.” I prefer not to abandon or “fire the client” when their case is not easy or simple.