Today in my supervision group, a group composed of 7 seasoned clinicians, including the supervisor, the question was posed. ..what can I do to help my patients when I feel that we are just getting going at the end mark of 45 minutes. It just doesn’t seem long enough.

With psychoanalysis and its variants still alive, we are looking to jump into the pain points with other modalities which are more experiential. Effective therapy is not simply a cognitive process, and we know from research on couples work that when we get people into a mid-level of activation and arousal, the sweet spot, there is the greater ability to process and listen.  It takes presence, skill, and time, at least. for that.

Some call them retreats, others intensives or intensive psychotherapy. And they vary depending upon what they offer. Programs might serve up a myriad of mindfulness activities and such in addition to individual psychotherapy. Nevertheless, they have their place, and where distance is an issue, they provide a better option to face-to-face therapy than text, talk, or video chat.

Intensive treatment is ideal for those who are in crisis and need some stabilization (ie-a recent affair or betrayal discovery), want more rapid resolution of a particular issue (ie-trauma work on a particular issue), are at an impasse in their ongoing weekly therapy, and for those who just don’t have the resources accessible or aren’t adequately available to manage a weekly session schedule.

An intensive approach provides an alternative to online counseling, and it is face-to-face; a connection and relationship can be established, a critical factor in outcome.

Intensives are often offered in psychotherapy for couples in crisis after infidelity discovery or for those who want a ‘retreat’ to enhance their relationship prescription. These might include intensive couples therapy, integrated sex and relationship therapy, discernment counseling, disclosure regarding an affair(s), and more. For individuals, intensives might include accelerated trauma work, using EMDR and/or hypnosis for, say, a de-escalation of the heightened and ongoing anxiety following affair discovery. There are also hypnosis protocols that can be used in an intensive fashion, particularly those that involve age regression and past-life regression.

Intensives might also show up in workshops, with multiple people/couples that say attend a Hold-me-Tight workshop (for emotionally focused couples therapy) over a two-day period or a week at Onsite doing family of origin work in a safe setting.

As a psychologist, intensives have, a few years pre-pandemic, entered my repertoire. Personally, the experience is transformative as you avoid the intense time constraint of the hour, yet you miss out on the continuity, with both being important aspects of recovery. During my travels, I heard from one therapist that, having engaged in this process, will no longer work in the weekly-hour format.

How do intensives measure up? Alongside individual weekly or biweekly therapy, in my book and in some cases are the preferred option.

Check out Dr. Winter’s Intensives here and here.

Check out the next blog post in this series here.

Check out the last blog post in this series here.