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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Time Management in Therapy Sessions


I’d just begun working for a new psychotherapeutic practice some years ago. The owner of the company, a seasoned clinician, kept a cozy working environment in the house-turned-therapy office in which a number of mental health care providers worked.


One area in particular was especially comfortable, which I learned was the owner’s preferred room. It was dimly lit and had, among other decorations, a large sofa with several small pillows, knickknacks, and a tiny digital clock nestled between a houseplant and a sofa arm.


The small clock, placed out of clients’ view, was for therapists to keep mindful of time. Typically, we saw clients for up-to 50-minute sessions. Forbid if I didn’t clear the room in time for the next therapist who impatiently stood outside the door, because I’d hear about it in a not so pleasant verbal exchange.


There was one problem with that tiny digital clock—I could barely see it. Even when relocating it to a position out of the shadow of a sofa arm, the clock wasn’t easy to read.


Therefore, I was faced with the uneasy predicament of continually monitoring my wristwatch during client sessions. Imagine going to see a person for help with the most challenging time in your life and across from you he sits, checking his watch. It wasn’t the most ideal setting.


This is one reason I preferred a separate location owned and operated by the same proprietor. There was ample light and a larger clock so that I could discretely track time while also focusing on the issues clients brought to session.


Still, my work in the darkened office taught me proper time management when in therapy sessions. This is a matter addressed on page 34 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion.


Aside from environmental challenges described above, some clients are more difficult to redirect when veering off on tangents. Noteworthy, I take personal ownership for not always using as direct an approach to sessions as I otherwise could.


Regarding this topic, page 35 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion reminds Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) practitioners to “take control of therapy sessions,” though to do so as a collaborative process with our clients.


Using the example of a client who presents to session with tangential thinking (moving from thought to thought, though without focusing on a main point), effective time management in the therapy session may require a direct interruption from me. I know this may seem rude to some people.


I may say, “[client X], I’d like to be honest with you. I’ve not been able to follow what you’ve been talking about, because my mind is trying to keep pace with you bouncing from topic to topic. In the interest of time, can we focus the remaining 20 minutes on one issue you’d like to work on?”


Here, I’ve joined with client X in the collaboration of addressing the matter of most importance. I didn’t inflexibly demand what I thought required focus, though I used assertiveness to interrupt confusing dialogue and then aim the client in a direction of client X’s choosing. Regarding this matter, one source states:


By prioritizing session planning, setting clear goals, allocating sufficient time, using effective scheduling techniques, and minimizing distractions, you can create a structured and focused environment that maximizes the therapeutic process within your private practice.


A number of things have changed since working at the aforementioned practice, particularly in how I manage time in therapy sessions. When I’m less focused on the pace of a session or whether a self-disturbed clinician is waiting outside of a therapy room, I’m better able to focus on my clients.


How about you, dear reader? Do you experience difficulty with scheduling, routine, or time management? Would you like to know more about how to efficiently handle these matters, while also using assertiveness with others, so that you can focus on what’s important in your life?


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW





Better Vision. (n.d.). How to master time management in therapy sessions. Retrieved from

Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

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