What is Intensive Psychotherapy?
What is Intensive Psychotherapy?
Intensive Psychotherapy is much like other psychotherapy except that we meet four days a week for four weeks. This is in contrast to the usual meetings once a week or once every two weeks. There are history and research that supports the idea of meeting so frequently. Traditional psychoanalysis is done an hour a day five days a week.
Research establishes a dose-response. The more therapy the more progress and the more frequently of meeting the more rapid the change. The findings are consistent in finding that meeting once a week has more rapid change than meeting once every other week, and meeting twice a week has more rapid change than once a week.
I have not found any research about meeting four times a week but meeting three times a week had the most rapid change. My experience with my patients convinces me of the effectiveness of this approach. I am always amazed at how rapidly the therapy goes when we meet four days a week. Why not five days a week? Because some patients get exhausted.
How does Intensive Psychotherapy work?
There is something intuitive about meeting four days a week. A lot of the effectiveness of therapy is in the relationship between the therapist and the patient. Imagine, for example, that we met and liked each other. At our first meeting, we start forming a friendship, a relationship of trust. It would be natural to see each other very soon and consistently. The depth of the friendship is determined by the amount we trust each other.
Now imagine if we met and liked each other but did not meet for a week or more. We only meet for an hour every week or two. How long would it take to trust each other and to form that deep friendship? Would we ever be able to do that? Frequent meetings speed up the process of getting to know each other, of coming to trust one another and to care about each other.
When change begins to happen, it is fragile and can fall apart or get off track. Think if you wanted to train your dog to sit. You give him the command to sit and he wags his tail and looks at you expectantly. You gently push him into a sitting position and tell him how good he is. He stands up and you try it again. You say sit and he sits. You give him a treat.
But did he sit because you told him to or was it a coincidence? Never-the-less, he was successful. When will you give him another training lesson? If you wait a week to give him another lesson he simply won’t learn. If you follow-up immediately, he’ll soon learn to respond as you want. We also know this intuitively. And so it is with psychotherapy. Just like the dog, we are training your brain to respond differently.
Meeting frequently will have the most rapid results.
A great deal of psychotherapy is the relationship between the patient and the therapist, and retraining responses. The relationship is based on mutual trust and caring. It takes quite a few experiences to learn that you can trust your therapist to be non-judgmental, to be supportive when you feel weak, to see a bigger picture when you feel lost, to be seen for who you really are, and to know for certain that he/she will take care of you. All that can happen in just a few days if you meet frequently enough.
Your therapist has a lot of different ways of helping you change your response to the things in your life and within you. Those ways work best when you know that your therapist is there with you and won’t abandon you as you take your first steps in a new and untried direction.
It is hard for me to describe, but there is something important that happens at the end of a session when you know that you will be meeting the next day. It is more like a pause and not an end. Patients have often complained to me about the end of sessions. The end is determined by the clock and not by human interaction.
The ending can seem abrupt but also, we might be in a deep relationship that now needs to end for a week. That can feel like being abandoned. But when we know that we will meet again the next day it is more like a pause. And when we meet it feels like a continuation of the work and the relationship.
I’m always amazed at how effective Intensive Psychotherapy is. It demands more of me, for sure. Just as the patient is thinking about the therapy all the time, I am always thinking about the patient. This way of working lets us both really focus on what we are doing, and what we are accomplishing.
It is not uncommon for us to be at day four in the therapy and I am seeing things that usually happen after four to six months of therapy. And at the end of four weeks, it is often as if the person has had three or four years of therapy.
And then what happens after that? Research on the kind of therapy that I do indicates that people continue to get better over time. Six months and two years after the end of therapy they have improved. In my own work, I do not yet have enough data to say anything for certain, but when I have contacted patients after six months, they have reported to me that they are happier and more solid than when we ended therapy.
Intensive Psychotherapy is not for everybody.
You have to be ready to make the commitment in time and money. All of the fee is paid in advance. You might get some reimbursement from your insurance company. That would have to be your negotiation with them.
You will have to make a commitment to meeting each time we are scheduled. The schedule is set in advance for all sixteen sessions. You need to know that you can’t be late, can’t leave early or will you permit anything to interfere with our scheduled appointments. There is no reimbursement for missed time.
During the COVID pandemic, we will meet online. For that, you need to have a strong enough internet connection, a computer (a phone will not do), and a private place where you will not be disturbed or overheard with good enough lighting that your image is well lit. Intensive Psychotherapy is something that you prepare for and make a commitment to. I will be making the same commitment to you.
It is not uncommon for us to meet a few times in advance because you want to get started with therapy but you aren’t sure about Intensive Psychotherapy or ready to pay the fee and to clear your schedule yet. This also lets us have a chance to start getting to know each other and to discuss Intensive Psychotherapy for you.
But some come already knowing that Intensive Psychotherapy is what they want. In that case, there may be a waiting period until a spot opens up. And sometimes there is no waiting.
If you are interested in Intensive Psychotherapy, please call me. We’ll want to explore together to make sure that it is the right thing for you and for you to start getting a feel for me. So just call or leave a message. The call is free and I’ll call you back. And while you are here, take a look at the FAQs