Extended Therapy Sessions: Sometimes More Is Better
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Extended Therapy Sessions: Sometimes More Is Better

Therapy can be a lifesaver for someone who is navigating mental health problems in the midst of every day life. Therapy sessions typically run for no more than an hour. As the field of mental health changes, so does our knowledge of successful treatment approaches.


Let us introduce the idea of extended treatment sessions, which is becoming more and more popular in the counseling community. This post will examine the dynamics of long treatment sessions, including when they are helpful, how to handle insurance issues and possible advantages and disadvantages.



Table Of Contents

When Should Therapy Sessions Go Beyond One Hour?

Will Insurance Cover Extended Therapy Sessions?

How Do I Ask For An Extended Therapy Session?

Are Longer Therapy Sessions Better?

Drawbacks Of Longer Therapy Sessions

The After Thought





When Should Therapy Sessions Go Beyond One Hour?


Therapy sessions are frequently limited to one hour in order to meet the needs of schedule conflicts and preserve an organized methodology. Nevertheless, there are times when a longer session is required due to the subtleties of an individual’s mental health journey. The standard one-hour approach may feel restrictive for people who are coping with deep-seated concerns, profound trauma, or a multitude of interconnected challenges.


Extended Therapy Sessions are especially helpful in the following situations:


Complex Trauma: It could take longer for the therapist and the client to fully explore the complexities and promote healing when dealing with deeply ingrained trauma.


Multifaceted Issues: A longer session allows for a more thorough exploration when clients are facing several interconnected difficulties; this promotes a holistic approach to problem-solving.


Crisis Situations: Extended therapy sessions can be comforting for persons going through a crisis since they offer instant support and assist in navigating the intensity of emotions.


Intensive Work: Certain therapeutic techniques, such as rigorous individual therapy or some forms of group therapy, inherently need longer time frames in order to produce significant outcomes. (Leichsenring et al., 2013, 2022)





Will Insurance Cover Extended Therapy Sessions?


An important consideration when thinking about long-term therapy sessions is insurance coverage. Insurance policies usually follow the one-hour session format, and it can be difficult to stray from this. But the field of mental health is changing, and some insurance companies are seeing the advantages of longer sessions in certain situations.


The American Psychological Association states that the purpose of the psychotherapy regulations is not to restrict the amount of time a psychologist can devote to psychotherapy. Psychologists should report CPT® code 90837: Psychotherapy, 60 minutes with patient if they conduct sessions longer than 60 minutes. The psychologist’s payment will be based on the total sum linked to 90837, regardless of the length of the session (American Psychological Association, 2020).


It is always important to be well informed of what type of coverage you have and what exactly your policy will cover. That is why it is best to call your insurance and inquire about coverage.


Photo by Alex Green



How Do I Ask For An Extended Therapy Session?


It can be intimidating to start a discussion regarding longer therapy sessions, but it is crucial for clients and therapists to communicate openly. Here are some ideas for bringing up the subject:


Express Your Needs: Start by explaining honestly why you are thinking of doing longer sessions. Giving your therapist some background information aids in understanding your point of view, whether it is due to the intricacy of your issues or your wish for a more thorough investigation.


Ask for Guidance: Find out from your therapist what the advantages of longer sessions might be in your particular case. Their expert advice can clarify whether this strategy fits with your treatment objectives.


Explore Logistics: Talk about the practical aspects of long sessions, like frequency, scheduling, and any possible pricing changes. A cooperative and well-informed decision-making process is ensured by being open and honest about your expectations and worries.


Be Open to Alternatives: Understand that longer sessions may not be the best option. To properly address your requirements, your therapist can suggest alternate strategies or a mix of regular and extended sessions.





Are Longer Therapy Sessions Better?


The length of each session does not determine the efficacy of therapy. Longer sessions, however, have a few benefits that can improve the healing process:


Deeper Exploration: Longer sessions allow for a deeper investigation of ideas, feelings and experiences, which promotes a more fulfilling therapeutic process.


Building Trust: More time spent with a therapist facilitates a stronger bond and the slow building of trust, both of which are essential for a fruitful therapeutic alliance.


Immediate Support: Extended sessions provide prompt and ongoing support to individuals in times of crisis or acute distress, enabling them to manage obstacles in real time.


Comprehensive Treatment: Longer sessions help provide a more thorough and sophisticated approach to treatment for people with complicated or multidimensional problems.





Drawbacks Of Longer Therapy Sessions


Even while prolonged therapy sessions have special advantages, it’s important to think about any potential disadvantages:


Fatigue: During long sessions, therapists and clients may become mentally and emotionally exhausted, which reduces overall efficacy of the therapeutic process.


Logistical Challenges: Both clients and therapists may find it difficult to schedule longer sessions, particularly when juggling other obligations.


Financial Considerations: Longer sessions could be more expensive, which might prevent some people from attending.


Diminished Focus: Sessions that last too long may cause participants to lose focus and become less attentive.





The After Thought


To sum up, the notion of prolonged therapy sessions poses a challenge to the established standards of mental health treatment. The potential advantages for people dealing with difficult circumstances are evident, even though they are not appropriate for everyone or every circumstance. Although there isn’t a single method that works for everyone, having the option for extended sessions offers a framework for more in-depth discussion and prompt assistance, which improves the therapeutic process.


While acknowledging potential limitations, the growing conversation about mental health services promotes flexibility and creativity. In order to provide the best possible support for people on their path to well-being, our approach to therapy should adapt to the changing needs of the mental health community.









American Psychological Association. (2020, November). Psychotherapy Services Frequently Asked Questions. Https://Www.Apaservices.Org. https://www.apaservices.org/practice/reimbursement/health-codes/psychotherapy-services-faq


Leichsenring, F., Abbass, A., Luyten, P., Hilsenroth, M., & Rabung, S. (2013). The emerging evidence for long-term psychodynamic therapy. Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 41(3), 361–384. https://doi.org/10.1521/pdps.2013.41.3.361


Leichsenring, F., Steinert, C., Rabung, S., & Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2022). The efficacy of psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies for mental disorders in adults: An umbrella review and meta‐analytic evaluation of recent meta‐analyses. World Psychiatry, 21(1), 133–145. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20941










Written By: Dr. Wasif MD

Edited by: Madison Vargas, BS

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Published : 03/29/2024


Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Written and reviewed by

Madison Vargas

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