One of the things I do when I come into work in the morning is pick up the messages from people who have called during the hours we're closed. This morning, there was just one - a plaintive request from a client of one of my colleagues, asking for longer sessions. The client said that she felt she could do more with more time.
This is not an uncommon request. My clients will ask from time to time if we can meet for two hours instead of one, or go 15 minutes over, or any stretch of extra time, because they feel that we're ending while they still have something to say. I understand that, and I think there's all kinds of merit to the desire to do more work in therapy.
Here's the problem, though, from your therapist's perspective. If I do that for a client, should I do that for all my clients? If one of my clients finds out what another one is doing (and, in my job in a college counseling center, many of my clients know each other) how will they feel? Of course, I can't talk to any of my clients about what any of my other clients are doing - but they'll know. And they'll wonder why someone is getting special treatment when they're not. And this will color our work together, at least for a while, and maybe distract from the other good stuff that we're getting done in session.
Incidentally, one of the hallmarks of therapists that are sliding towards an ethical violation is doing special favors for one client above all others. Keeping later hours when they'd usually be headed home. Coming in on a weekend. Allowing that client privileges that no one else is getting.
I'm very sensitive to this, and I work hard to keep the "therapeutic frame," that container that helps our work together feel safe and consistent. If I find myself favoring someone, or feel like I'm NOT doing something for someone that I'd do for someone else, it's time for me to sit with that and figure out what's going on.
For your therapist, the work continues after the clients are gone. We need to make sure that we're centered, available, and doing everything we can to clear out those hidden prejudices and acts of favoritism. From the outside, it might just look like 15 extra minutes. From my perspective, it feels like a lot more than that.
Not all therapists are with me on this one, and I know of some folks I very much respect who give extra time to some folks. I've done it myself, when the clinical need was strong, once or twice. Those instances have been few and far between, and I've had a good conversation with myself, and then my client, about the reasons behind the shift. As will all things involved in being authentic and human, sometimes the little things mean a lot more than we think.