As-needed sessions are most effective if a client has already been in counseling for several visits (over several months or more) and then wants to stop in for a periodic refresher or “tune up.” Typically, however, his type of extremely brief treatment does not usually work for most therapeutic methods.
Think of therapy as an exercise like going to the gym. If you work out one time you may feel good afterward that day, but long-term affects usually only can be achieved with regular visits over a period of time. And like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.
Clients usually need time in between sessions to let life happen – to practice observing what they are learning in session about themselves and practice altering the ways they interact with the world. Just as your physical body takes time to develop strength, flexibility, and stamina, so does your mind and your emotional heart!
If you prefer fewer visits (as long as your safety is not compromised) it might be better to spread out visits – such as once or twice per month for 6-12 months instead of weekly visits for a few weeks. Keep in mind that under these circumstances your progress may be slower, but it is still possible to improve, and we can give homework in between visits to help keep the momentum going.
If you have risk factors that could jeopardize your safety, such as thoughts of suicide, self-mutilating behaviors, active substance abuse, or involvement in relationships that are violent or abusive, spreading out visits would not be appropriate.