How to conduct an SST: the Australian model

How to conduct an SST: the Australian model

The main models of Single Session Therapy, starting from the works of Talmon, Hoyt and Rosenbaum, which have reported more contributions in terms of scientific literature, systematization of methodology and reports of clinical cases, and which therefore have more inspired the works of other authors and other researches, there are three.

 What are these three models?

The three methods that have had the greatest impact in training and informing about TSS are: the California Model, the Canadian-Texan Model and the Australian Model. In this article I will focus on the Australian one.

What does the Australian Method consist of?

 The Australian Method, represented by the work carried out at the Bouverie Center in Melbourne, the center for families directed by Jeff Young, since 1994 has trained several hundred Australian therapists and dozens of health facilities on the logic of TSS.

The method of this center, having adapted to different professional figures, such as: psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, social workers, health managers and other figures related to the health system, is referred to as Single Session Work (SSW).

Therefore, if we remove the name “therapy” and replace it with “work”, many principles that allow you to derive the maximum benefit from each meeting with the person can be applied by different professionals and therefore in different contexts and for different objectives.

Furthermore, since the Bouverie is a center for families, it has developed a particular declination of TSS with this in mind, calling it Single Session Family Therapy.

How is the SSW divided?


The Australian method divides the SSW into 3 main stages:

  • Engagement phase

 The person contacts the Center, which evaluates which service is most suitable for them and informs them on how the entire Single Session Work process works. A pre-session questionnaire is also sent to you, with a request to fill it in and take it with you on the day of the appointment.

  • Session phase

 This phase is that of meeting face to face with the therapist. If a risk situation is assessed, the therapist follows an ad hoc protocol, otherwise the normal session is carried out, at the end of which a telephone follow-up is given at 2-3 weeks.

  • Follow-up phase

 During the telephone follow-up, the therapist asks the person for feedback on the session and evaluates with her whether or not other meetings are necessary, with an invitation to contact the Center in the future if necessary.

At this point, the therapist completes an outcome questionnaire and sends one to the client to assess satisfaction.

As you can see, from what has been written above, the Bouverie Center SSW session is very structured, since despite providing a very flexible and open methodology, at the same time it is capable of giving very precise guidelines.

This model, in fact, provides very precise guidelines, but without forcing the therapist into rigidly defined theoretical-practical references. During the training, despite not being given elements markedly referring to a dominant therapeutic orientation, the guidelines have very clear and easily malleable procedures.

What are the guidelines we can draw from the SSW session?

  • Explain how SSW works: The fact that people know that just one session can be enough, prompts both the practitioner and the patient to try to get the most out of the session. Furthermore, people are reassured that, if necessary, it is possible at any time to request further interviews at the Center.
  • It is essential to identify the most important goal for the person and give it priority throughout the session.
  • Getting to the point by creating a context of mutual honesty and frankness, characterized by an approach that communicates warmth and care.
  • Making time an ally: it is necessary to communicate to the patient, in a clear and respectful way, the time available for the session, so that he can manage it in the most appropriate way to treat what is important to him.


  • Constant check-in: throughout the session, it is important to ensure that you are always on the right course, to avoid getting lost on objectives other than the one chosen at the beginning.
  • Provide Feedback and Share Thoughts: During the session, the therapist should report feedback, considerations, and thoughts to the patient regarding the problem he or she brings.


  • Keep your mind and the door open: as we have learned by now, you need to approach each meeting “as if” it were the last, while giving you the opportunity to request others.
    Although people will deem a single session sufficient, they will still be told that the door, for them, is always open.


Considering the structure of this model, we can therefore say that it is probably one of the method we can therefore say that it is probably one of the methods that has most influenced the Italian Center, becoming an optimal starting point for evolving our model.

Veronica Torricelli

Psychologist, Psychotherapist

Italian Center team

for Single Session Therapy

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