This is something I get asked a lot. Most therapists use one hour sessions (or often 50 or 55 minutes) and there are some who do 90 minute sessions. I like to work with an initial four hour booking because it allows time to find out exactly what is going on rather than just using a one size fits all approach.
There are occasions when shorter sessions are appropriate e.g. a follow up session, working with children or using hypnosis for specific aims like deep relaxation or to build momentum gradually over time (for a marathon runner for instance), but these instances are the unusual rather than the norm.
For most issue resolution there will be more than one thing going on so it’s really important to find out where you are before you think about moving ahead.
Commercially it may be disadvantageous for me to use four hour sessions – I am asking a bigger commitment of my clients (and for that first session many people have a high level of uncertainty – is this going to work, what is it going to be like? etc) so four hours can seem like a big ask. And of course a four hour session will have a higher fee, so again for a potential client it’s a bigger commitment to make. There are big advantages though; the unconscious mind works fast which means that when you change your mind at an unconscious level you do so very quickly, instantaneously. Lasting change happens when you change your mind at both levels, conscious and unconscious thinking working in agreement. Changing your mind in a conscious way is what you do when you make, for instance, a New Year’s Resolution. If you find yourself sticking to that resolution easily then you will have changed your mind unconsciously as well. If you are having trouble sticking to that resolution then as much as you want to do it (your conscious thinking) there will be some unconscious thinking going on that is stopping you from sticking to your resolution. So if you need to make a change to your unconscious thinking it makes sense to do it in one go so that you can allow your unconscious mind to change in the way it likes to change;- quickly. A four hour session provides enough time to do this and that’s why I prefer to work that way.
In the context of what is considered the norm, four hours can look like a long time, but start to think about the change you want to make (and specifically how long you have wanted to make it) and now four hours is looking like a short amount of time (indeed it might even seem miraculous)!One session is often enough to resolve a single issue. Sometimes two are needed or where appropriate I will discuss with the client perhaps having a follow up session of two hours. Either way making a significant change in anything from 4 to 8 hours can be considered fast by any standard.
When we are dealing with big life changes it’s important to bring some focus and commitment along to a session. And here we see another benefit of the four hour session. It demands commitment and allows focus. Four hours is enough time to make a change. When someone comes to see me, I want them to go away feeling like something worthwhile has occurred.
So I use four hour sessions because they work and because good outcomes are important to me.