I have been doing a lot of thinking about session length lately. Over the past several years I have followed the trend of decreasing my session length to 45 minutes. I remember when sessions were standardized at 50 minutes when I started practicing 36 years ago. The idea was to see people for 50 minutes then have a 10 minute break between sessions, which worked pretty well for most people. Intakes were a little difficult to fit in that time for most people and often needed a longer time period. The biggest challenge was couples. Trying to fit a session with a couple into 50 minutes was always difficult and fitting them into 45 minutes, which is now the standard time that third party reimbursers ususally pay for, is even harder.
So with that in mind I thought I would adjust session length to 75 minutes to 90 minutes. Seventy-five minutes seems to work much better with most of the people I would with including couples and individuals and we don't seem rushed. Then I have 15 minutes between sessions if needed. People seem to treat time differently. Previously most of my clients came for weekly sessions but now they tend to come biweekly or longer, which actually works better for most people and especially couples giving them time to work on issues between sessions.
From a financial perspective it is more economical for clients to come less frequently and be seen longer at each session since I charge the same for 75 minute to 90 minute sessions as I used to charge for 45 minute sessions. I suppose I could charge more but I would rather take my time with each couple or individual and pass the cost savings on to them. For them it is like they get two sessions for the price of one each time and I get the luxury of a longer amount of their time when I have them, which is especially helpful since it is often difficult for clients and espeically couples to find time to be a couple let alone come for counseling.
I have also noticed the relaxed pace helps both me and my clients relax as well. I am not as sensitive to watching the time and being careful not to cross into the next session. This makes sessions seem rushed and often results in items getting moved to the next session, which due to client's time constraints may not occur with the frequence it once did.
This process may not work for all counselors but I find it effective for me and the folks I work with.