If you find yourself struggling with depression despite taking antidepressants and meeting weekly with a qualified therapist, you’re not alone. While this regimen can make a significant difference in alleviating the symptoms of depression for some people, many clients find themselves needing more support. Your brain chemistry and life experiences are completely unique. Your treatment should reflect that individuality, and there are many options that go beyond the bare minimum approach.
How do you know if you need more than just weekly therapy for your depression? Here are a few guidelines to help you and your clinician decide what is right for you.
Benefits of More Frequent Therapy
When you first get started with a new therapist, the first thing you typically do is dive right into your personal history. It can take several sessions to get through all of this information, depending on what brought you into therapy, your immediate concerns, and your long-term goals. Weekly or biweekly sessions may not be ideal for this phase of your treatment; it can take too long to communicate your history, and sometimes sharing that information can be really uncomfortable, especially if you’re experiencing more acute stress from trauma.
If you decide to meet with your therapist a couple of times per week, you can get through this initial stage of your treatment more quickly. Working through this introduction period helps you to build momentum and gives your therapist the clearest idea of what you are going through. This allows you to work together to create a treatment plan that is ideal for you so that you can start feeling better faster.
Handling a Crisis with Help
If you are currently going through any type of crisis, you should really consider attending therapy more than just once a week for more targeted support. Regular meetings give your therapist ample opportunity to check in on you and provide professional support to help address any immediate needs. For example, clients who are struggling with suicidal ideation or severe depression should be scheduled for more frequent check-ins. This is a great strategy to give you a safe space to express those extreme feelings, and it gives your therapist an opportunity to equip you with tools to help alleviate your suffering.
Even with multiple appointments each week, you may still be struggling with suicidal thoughts. If this describes your current situation, you might need more intensive help in the form of hospitalization. If you are struggling with suicidal feelings, please know that there is help — you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at any time for immediate support. Your therapist can assist with a plan to help you get some space from these feelings and heal.
Equipping You with Tools
Certain types of therapy can work more effectively with multiple sessions per week. For example, dialectical behavior therapy or DBT focuses on teaching clients emotional regulation and working toward decreasing self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse. With DBT, you can expect to learn skills like radical acceptance of your emotions, how to replace negative behavior patterns with more positive ones, and mindfulness. Of course, learning to implement these skills in your daily life will take time. Attending therapy more than just once a week can help you to achieve results faster.
Keep in mind that attending therapy multiple times per week does not necessarily mean that you experience the same format each time. For example, some individuals will see their therapist one-on-one for a session and then attend a group therapy session later in the week. This gives you an opportunity to explore these skills in multiple settings and offers you additional support by connecting with people who share similar experiences.
Changing Your Own Voice
Most people have an inner voice that narrates their life. In the case of someone struggling with depression, this inner voice is often very critical. It may speak negatively about who you are and what you are capable of achieving, and it may be rooted in shame or guilt. Even people who do not struggle with depression can have a difficult time with how they speak to themselves internally. Changing the way you communicate with yourself and about yourself takes time, but seeing your therapist more frequently may help to reshape that nagging little voice in your head.
One of the primary roles that a therapist can play is to challenge the lies and distortions of reality that you tell yourself. Your therapist is skilled at detecting the truth and can ask questions to guide you in the right direction. With practice, you will be able to internalize the voice of your therapist – it is a kinder and gentler voice that can make a major difference in your outlook on life.
By attending therapy more regularly, you are exposing yourself to this new narrative more frequently as well. It helps to speed up the process of changing the way you think about yourself and your situation.
Building a Relationship
Therapy is a very relational type of treatment, and the dynamic between the therapist and the client matters significantly for the outcome of the treatment. Weekly sessions will often follow the same pattern: the client shows up with a problem and the therapist helps the client arrive at an acceptable solution. However, if a client is in the midst of a crisis, there might be too much ground to cover between sessions. If you find yourself wishing you had longer to go into further detail at the end of each session, it might be time to consider signing up for more frequent therapy sessions.
When you attend therapy more regularly, your therapist truly gets to know you, and they are able to sense when you are holding back. A good therapist can recognize the underlying issues that are causing your depression symptoms to worsen. Instead of having to focus on the solution for the problem at hand, you can start to look at the bigger picture and address the root causes of depression.
Difficulty Processing Emotions
Reaching the end of a session can feel rewarding and empowering for some clients. Others struggle to process all of the emotions that may come up after the session ends. Depending on what brings you to therapy, the process can be quite intense – you may even feel physically drained at the end of your hour-long therapy appointment. One key way to determine whether you need to see your therapist more regularly is to evaluate how you feel at the end of each session.
If you are leaving every session feeling like you have too much to process, more frequent sessions may be beneficial. While this might seem counterintuitive, processing your difficult emotions more intentionally may help you to make faster progress toward your goals in therapy. It can be helpful to build and maintain momentum by attending therapy more than once a week.
Some Objections to More Frequent Therapy
While there are many benefits to attending therapy more frequently, there may be barriers for some clients. The first and most common objection is cost: attending therapy more frequently will cost more in co-pays and fees. Sometimes insurance may only cover one session per week. If cost is the only thing holding you back from attending therapy more frequently, you might need to consider some alternatives.
For example, some therapists offer discounts to those who want to attend additional sessions outside of weekly appointments. They may also offer self-pay discounts for sessions beyond those that are covered by insurance. Another alternative would be to attend a group therapy session instead of an individual session. Group therapy sessions can sometimes be more cost-effective, plus they can help you expand your support network and teach you more experiential skills that can be helpful for managing depression.
Keep in mind that attending therapy more regularly might mean that you are in treatment for a shorter period of time. Consider how long you might be in therapy if you attend weekly versus twice weekly; the cost may come out to be around the same since you can likely shorten the amount of time that it takes to get to the root of issues.
Another objection to more frequent therapy is scheduling. Most clients who attend therapy have other responsibilities in their life: they may have a family, a full-time job, or volunteer commitments. That being said, therapy is a wonderful investment. By building momentum and quickly learning skills in the beginning of your treatment, you may be able to avoid prolonging the amount of time that you are in therapy, and you can apply the skills you learn in therapy to other areas of your life.
Once you reach a maintenance stage, it’s likely that you can go back to meeting with your therapist once a week or even less frequently depending on your circumstances. You must be willing to put the work in now if you want to reach a point where therapy is available just to help you maintain your goals and progress.
If you’ve tried attending therapy more frequently without improvement in your symptoms, or if the combination of therapy and antidepressants doesn’t bring relief, there are other alternatives.
At All Points North, we offer a residential treatment program and an intensive outpatient program to address mood disorders and anxiety disorders with or without a co-occurring substance use disorder. We support clients struggling with a range of conditions, including:
- Clinical Depression (Major Depressive Disorder)
- Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Our approach offers more comprehensive care for the whole person; you will work together with our treatment experts to plan an individualized healing protocol including a psychologist, our psychiatric nursing staff, a psychiatrist, licensed clinical social workers, trauma therapists, a dietitian, and other contracted health professionals. In addition to our on-site team, we believe in extensive collaboration with any existing providers you may already have.
Our goal is to expand upon care already being provided, not to replace it. With your permission, our team is able to communicate directly with your current therapist, psychiatrist, and other health professionals to improve our ability to offer personalized mental health treatment designed to set you up for growth and success on-site, over the phone, and at home.
Alternative Therapies and Healing Modalities
At All Points North Lodge, we use trauma-integrated therapy methodologies that support our clinical work to go beyond symptom management for mental health issues. We help you identify the root causes of emotional dysregulation and dysfunction using a range of therapies and healing modalities, including ketamine-assisted healing and therapy, neurofeedback, stellate ganglion blocks, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, breathwork, yoga, meditation, assignments, equine therapy, group therapy, and more.
We also offer Deep TMS as an add-on therapy to treat medication-resistant major depressive disorder and OCD. In real-life clinical settings, Deep TMS was proven to be effective for 3 out of 4 major depression patients, with a 51% remission rate and 75% response rate.
We will work with you to build a treatment plan that not only addresses your immediate needs, but also supports you in your long-term mental health goals.
Making the Right Choice for You
While many clients can find success with a regimen of antidepressants and weekly therapy sessions, sometimes you may need a more customized approach to healing. Ultimately, you will have more success with addressing depression if you are able to work with a clinician to customize your treatment plan based on the kind of support you need.
If you’re unsure of your options and want to explore additional healing modalities to create a custom residential treatment program or an IOP, we are here to support you. The treatment experts at All Points North can offer personalized guidance about what is best for your unique situation. We are standing by and ready to help: call us at 855.235.9792 or complete our online contact form to start a conversation.
Whether you choose residential treatment in Edwards, CO at All Point North Lodge, at Plus by APN in Malibu, online, or just down the road, we commend you on taking your first step. If you have any questions throughout the process, we are standing by and ready to help.