The "therapy hour" or "therapeutic hour" is typically not a full hour. 

Why Are Remedy Classes Often Solely 45 Or 50 Minutes?

The advantages of going to remedy can’t be overstated, although it might really feel intimidating to dive in and make it a part of your routine at first.

Whereas therapists take many various approaches to assembly frequency and size, the norm for particular person remedy (i.e., remedy with one shopper) tends to be weekly 45- or 50-minute classes. However when did this time turn out to be the usual “remedy hour” or “therapeutic hour”?

“There are numerous theories on the origins of the 50-minute remedy session and a few studies that hint again to Freud,” Becky Stuempfig, a licensed marriage and household therapist in Encinitas, California, instructed HuffPost. “There doesn’t appear to be a consensus on precisely when the ‘therapeutic hour’ was established, however it has remained the business commonplace.”

The “remedy hour” or “therapeutic hour” is usually not a full hour. 

Past the historical past, nonetheless, there are lots of causes ― sensible, psychological and insurance-related ― to stay to this timeframe. HuffPost spoke to Stuempfig and different therapists to search out out why the 45- or 50-minute session has endured.

It Helps With Logistics

There are a lot of logistical components preserving session lengths round this timeframe, relatively than a full hour.

For shoppers, this timing might make it simpler to see a therapist throughout a lunch hour or simply earlier than work. For therapists with back-to-back classes, the 10 or 15-minute break gives the chance to jot down progress notes in regards to the shopper they only noticed, return calls and emails, deal with billing, take a toilet break, get a glass of water and even simply breathe.

“There are therapists who work extensively with shoppers coping with very heavy, traumatic experiences, so the break provides them the prospect to decompress somewhat bit,” mentioned Tammer Malaty, a licensed skilled counselor at Malaty Remedy in Houston, Texas.

“Logistically talking, therapists sometimes depend on the time between classes to reset themselves for his or her subsequent shopper,” famous Stuempfig, including that this could contain “taking deep breaths to arrange themselves mentally for his or her subsequent shopper to allow them to really feel current and alert.”

Many therapists make the most of 45 minutes, relatively than 50, to increase the break between classes, or to schedule back-to-back classes on the hour and half-hour marks.

“It is a newer observe,” mentioned Nicole M. Ward, a licensed marriage and household therapist in Los Angeles. She famous that 45-minute classes additionally permit therapists to see extra shoppers in in the future.

It Feels Extra Contained

There are additionally psychological the explanation why these session occasions stay the norm. To begin with, the size of time feels extra contained, so it lessens the danger of over-exposure to painful feelings.


“It might really feel traumatic to a shopper to take a seat with their ache for an prolonged time period, risking emotional hurt and inflicting the shopper to not return on account of worry of retraumatization,” Stuempfig mentioned.

“Given the distinctive private and emotional natures of remedy, many individuals would discover an hour or extra to be overwhelming to their nervous system and shifting on with their day after that,” added Denver-based licensed psychotherapist Brittany Bouffard. “It permits the shopper to go to necessary processes, really feel emotions, derive their insights and get the sense that there can be a reprieve from the depth in order that they’ll then return to work or to their household.”

The therapeutic hour additionally units psychological boundaries for the therapist and shopper. Stuempfig famous that 45- or 50-minute classes permit therapists to supply a contemporary perspective and stay goal with out getting too immersed in a shopper’s life.

“On the core of the therapeutic relationship is confidentiality,” she defined. “The shopper enters the connection being assured that their revelations won’t depart that area, until after all there are security dangers. This creates a singular dynamic that isn’t meant to go on for lengthy durations of time. It will not be sustainable to have this kind of dialog for a lot of hours at a time.”

Having a transparent endpoint after lower than an hour may help create a secure area for the shopper to really feel, course of and include intense feelings, relatively than go into it with the sense that there’s no finish in sight.

There are practical, psychological and insurance-related reasons to limit session length to 45 or 50 minutes.  

There are sensible, psychological and insurance-related causes to restrict session size to 45 or 50 minutes.  

It Encourages Good Use Of Time

Maintaining remedy classes beneath an hour may additionally encourage each events to make one of the best of the time allotted.

“It will possibly encourage each therapist and shopper to get to the center of the issue relatively rapidly,” Stuempfig famous. “They know that in the event that they interact in typical small discuss, will probably be a waste of priceless time.”

When the shopper is aware of a giant subject received’t be totally resolved in a single session, they might really feel extra snug presenting it, discussing objectives to counter the issue, exploring completely different points of it and studying coping expertise to implement in on a regular basis life.

“When individuals have longer, they don’t get to the meat of the fabric in a short time,” Lori Gottlieb, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist and creator of “Possibly You Ought to Speak To Somebody,” instructed HuffPost. “When individuals know they’ve 50 minutes, they really feel conscious that they should reap the benefits of that point. It’s about hanging a stability in order that work is getting performed.”

Longer classes may additionally result in a way of fatigue or burnout for each the therapist and the shopper. For kids, that timing candy spot may be shorter with 30-minute classes, as 45 or 50 is usually too lengthy for a child’s consideration span.

It Helps You Course of What You Be taught

Saniyyah Mayo, a licensed marriage and household therapist in Los Angeles, in contrast remedy classes to highschool courses. Every class presents a set period of time that college students spend studying a couple of particular part of the curriculum. Afterward, they’ll course of the knowledge and even discover it in a unique setting by way of homework.

“An individual can have a 4-hour session however they aren’t going to mirror and digest all the pieces that was mentioned in the course of the session,” Mayo defined. “The shopper might imagine it was a very good session, however an excessive amount of info could be coated for them to fully digest it and profit from it. Giving individuals increments of knowledge and permitting them to course of it in sections is nice for the very best end result for remedy.”

For this reason therapists typically counsel assembly extra continuously, relatively than extending classes, when shoppers specific a want for extra time.


I feel extra work will get performed in two separate classes than in a single longer one while you really feel like you might have on a regular basis on the planet,” mentioned Gottlieb, who in contrast remedy to a giant, filling meal.

“You’ll be able to’t have this complete large meal directly and anticipate it’s digested or processed in the identical method as when you’d simply eaten somewhat bit and let it digest after which eaten extra later,” she defined. ”You want that point in between. You’ll be able to’t take an excessive amount of in and have it stick.”

It Permits You To Incorporate Your Findings

The necessary factor to bear in mind is that remedy is an ongoing dialog, and the actual change occurs when the shoppers observe what they study of their lives outdoors the therapist’s workplace. The main target ought to be on the abilities and insights they acquire throughout classes and the way they’ll implement them ― not the size of the classes.

“There’s an ideal deal occurring within the span of the therapeutic hour,” Stuempfig mentioned. “It’s supposed to be restricted and subsequently, highly effective in its influence. This additionally leaves time between classes for the shopper to mirror on their therapeutic insights and hopefully alter their perspective or relationships. Our brains and our bodies want time and area to include classes discovered in remedy.”

The 45- or 50-minute session is not a hard and fast rule. There are many situations when therapists opt for longer sessions.

The 45- or 50-minute session shouldn’t be a tough and quick rule. There are a lot of conditions when therapists go for longer classes.

Insurance coverage Pushes it

Insurance coverage firms additionally feed into the 45- or 50-minute session commonplace, as they base reimbursement on the sort and size of remedy. A typical billing code is 90834, which denotes 45 minutes of particular person psychotherapy however can be utilized for classes starting from 38 to 52 minutes.

“If the clinician stays with a shopper for greater than 52 minutes, then technically a unique code ought to be used ― a code that defines ‘one unit’ of remedy as 60 minutes,” mentioned Zainab Delawalla, a medical psychologist in Decatur, Georgia.

“Nonetheless, there may be lots of pushback from insurance coverage firms about truly paying clinicians for the ‘60-minute’ code. Many firms require preauthorizations and have very strict standards of when and for whom the 60-minute remedy hour is suitable. If the insurance coverage supplier decides that the factors weren’t met, they won’t pay the clinician.”

Thus, to keep away from not being paid or breaking the regulation (by billing a code that doesn’t precisely convey the size and nature of the service supplied), clinicians have a tendency to stay with the business commonplace of 45 or 50 minutes.

After all, therapists can and do provide completely different session lengths based mostly on particular person shopper wants and make it work with suppliers. And even when your therapist doesn’t take your insurance coverage, your supplier might provide out-of-network reimbursement choices.

Past The 45- Or 50-Minute Session

Though 45- or 50-minute classes are the business commonplace, it’s not a tough rule throughout each case. For {couples} or households, therapists provide longer classes, often 90 minutes.

“These are areas the place there are a number of views at play and also you need everybody to have the ability to have area,” Ward mentioned, noting that these classes contain extra info and relationship dynamics to deal with.

In particular person remedy, there’s generally a medical want for longer classes, whether or not that’s a extra advanced subject to work by way of or perhaps a time of disaster. In these instances, session timing might shift.

Many therapists additionally provide longer classes for consumption appointments with new shoppers to make sure that they’ve sufficient time to collect info and ask questions for diagnostic clarification.

Finally, therapists assess shoppers and decide assembly occasions on a case-by-case foundation.

“The therapeutic hour … could also be frequent however there are different lengths of time on the market. You will need to talk with the precise therapist when you really feel like longer classes are wanted,” Ward mentioned. “I feel it’s actually necessary to demystify remedy and what occurs in classes as a result of we are able to kind tales about why issues are a sure method. Having the ability to have info helps to take away among the stigma from remedy.”

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