In less than two hours, you can get a tune-up and oil change, a tax refund, or a massage—and maybe a new outlook on life. That's the idea behind single-session therapy (SST), a method of counseling in which you show up, talk, listen, learn and leave, possibly forever.
- Juno DeMelo
Article: Can You Solve All Your Problems in a Single Session of Therapy
Single Session (SST) or One at a time (OAAT)
Imagine if you could book an appointment with a therapist for a single session. Perhaps it's a passing concern or you just need to talk to someone now and not wait 8 weeks. Maybe you just want to check if we're a good fit. While that option has been available in many other countries it hasn't always been a great fit in our area of the world. This was a shame because the results and feedback from clients were overwhelmingly positive.
Hoyt, Talmon and Rosenbaum in 1988 presented research that showed that many SST practitioners were intrigued by a method that could help large numbers of people while freeing up time for those requiring extended attention. Their follow up questionnaires showed that clients were getting a lot out of their single session, but solving one problem led to improvement in other areas of their lives. It also demonstrated that SST is not a therapy model/style but a strategic viewpoint that provides quicker more relevant access.
Therapists have sometimes struggled with why people will go to the doctor for their physical health and yet not attend a therapist for their mental health, even though their mental health may be a more pervasive issue and affect them more greatly. One reason is that people wait until the difficulty gets overwhelming because there is the perception that starting therapy needs to be a long process. With single session therapy that need no longer be the case. With single session therapy you get an appointment much closer to when you actually need/want it, which also makes it more meaningful and helpful.
Those sorts of results are definitely in line with our ongoing commitment to good, accessible therapy! So at Stonetree Therapy we've worked hard to untangle the details that are unique to our nation and provide this service here in Wisconsin.
What does SST look like?
Appointments average 60 to 80 minutes. In the session we focus on your strengths and skills, and then help you identify and practice things you can do to get unstuck. SST focuses on accessing unknown resources, reframing thinking patterns, and immediate steps toward solutions. "Rather than looking at what negative thoughts and behaviors might be causing your issue, we look at what positive ones could solve it," says Hoyt.
When is SST appropriate?
Those who can identify a specific goal (ie. dealing with grief, building self-esteem, validating feelings) tend to find it most helpful. Although some studies of SST have been shown to help reduce anxiety, recurring nightmares, alcohol abuse and self-harm, as well as help manage phobias and panic attacks. Obviously however, SST is not for everyone and so selecting a therapist who understands the appropriateness and skills of SST is important.
Although we've been providing SST type therapy over the years as needed, we are launching this more streamlined access to speed up access to quality mental health resources. If at any time you feel that you would prefer ongoing sessions they are always still available.