Single session therapy?

Anybody ever found just one session of counseling productive (meaning you only went once but it was extremely helpful)?

Counseling takes time…usually. You want to get to know your client, hear their history, learn how they think and feel, what they have already tried, and walk with them into some new ways of thinking or responding to their life situations. This kind of work takes time, a lot of time in some cases. And the solutions take even more time.

But I suspect there are some folk who could benefit from just 1 hour of troubleshooting. If you have had one of those experiences, what happened? What was helpful?


Filed under counseling, counseling science, counseling skills, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Single session therapy?

  1. Scott Knapp

    It’s also possible that a single session might validate that, although the counselee is hurting badly, they are responding in an essentially healthy and godly manner…and all that was needed was an assessment and affirmation of that.

  2. I’ve never had single-session therapy. In my case, therapy tends to be too short to accomplish my goals, because I take forever to get to trust my therapist. But I agree with Scott that it is possible to validate that a person is coping healthily. Also, some alternative treatments, such as NLP, use one session to teach an exercise and then let the client practice at home.

  3. I have benefited from one session but that was in a peer counseling session where we were both grounded in solid teaching. Though very rare I think there can be times when a person can be helped by a single session but it seems that there must be a strong premise of truth and clarity on the counselee’s part in the first place. With that in place it can be good just to get another person’s perspective who is not so close to the situation. But again their must already be a strong foundation of truth and understanding evidenced in that person’s life. I do believe God blesses some people with that grace but it is more unique than the norm in the the counseling sphere.

  4. birdz

    I have a flip question….is there ever a time when someone might be in counseling for too long? How long is too long of a time…meaning years? Is it ever appropriate for someone to “touch base” monthly or every few weeks with a counselor whom they have built a relationship and trust with?

  5. birdz

    I meant “touch base” on an ongoing basis.

  6. Yes, I do believe and have personally experienced single session therapy / counseling. This however does not occur too often and it is only possible in situations where the counseling need (or problem) is not very deep rooted or traumatic. For example, I remember speaking to a couple who where having a very challenging time with their teen, I asked some quick questions that ruled out any type of deep rooted or abuse problems and then I realized that they had no boundaries set for their teen. I recommended several books and scriptures on boundaries and the importance of them and send them on their way. All this was less than one hour. Weeks later, I received a phone call from very satisfied parents.

  7. Lou

    We call this a Spirit lead coffee break.

  8. Ryan

    I got to use the one session approach in a AIDS clinic/ psychiatry setting- and the intake assessment was in many cases the intervention. Hard to know if it was effective, but it sometimes was all we had. I believe Jesus effectively conversed which at times happened in only one brief meeting- so why can’t we?

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