How to promote hope in Single Session Therapy

How to promote hope in Single Session Therapy

Today ‘s article focuses in particular on one of the therapeutic (or change) factors that acts in a particular way within Single Session Therapy (SST), namely hope .

As we know, SST is a widely used method in mental health services as it represents a clinically effective solution for reducing long waiting times and overcoming difficulties in accessing psychotherapy.

The aim of the article is therefore to provide useful information on how to promote this factor during Single Session Therapy sessions .

Why is hope so relevant in Single Session Therapy?

As we have written extensively in previous articles , since Single Session Therapy is not a therapeutic approach , but a method of intervention, the latter is not supported by a particular theoretical model.



Therefore the question that arises from this observation is: what influences the clinical outcomes obtained with SST?

The following fundamental elements have been found in the literature:

the clinician’s confidence regarding the client’s change (Bloom, 2001);

the clinician’s ability to establish a positive therapeutic relationship (Talmon, 2012);

the customer’s willingness to change (Stalker, Horton, & Cait, 2012).



But are these the only elements or the most important ones?

In this regard, the scholar Alesya Courtnage (2020) in her article Hoping for Change: The Role of Hope in Single Single Session Therapy , published in the Journal of Systemic Therapies , focuses on Snyder’s theory of hope (1994), starting from the belief that hope has the potential to transcend differing views on what factors and practical principles make a TSS effective.



How does the factor of hope relate to different practical principles?

It is now established that effective Single Session Therapy requires the therapist to visualize each therapeutic encounter as:

an episodio a se stante (Bloom, 2001);

pragmatic and based on a strong therapeutic alliance (Slive & Bobele, 2012);

centered on the present and future, rather than the past (Slive & Bobele, 2012).

This last aspect is a key concept for activating hope . Clients understand that focusing on the present and future, rather than the past , allows them to see that problems are manageable.



But what is hope?

Since the Middle Ages, hope has been present in the language of philosophy, religion, spirituality, anthropology and psychology (Weingarten, 2010).

Although definitions of hope vary across cultures and contexts (Herrestad, Biong, McCormack, Borg, & Karlsson, 2014), it is commonly believed that hope consists of a way of seeing situations beyond the problems (Hanna, 2002) and it is future-oriented (Larsen, Edey, & Lemay, 2007).



What role does hope play in the clinical field?

Within counseling, a therapist’s ability to convey hope and confidence in the client’s ability is consistently recognized as one of the most important predictors of growth in therapy (Asay & Lambert, 1999; Duncan, Miller, & Sparks, 2004).

Reiter (2010) argues that hope can be developed during the encounter and be more malleable in the early stages of therapy . The latter aspect is of particular importance for SST which often remains the first and only meeting between client and therapist.



But how is hope activated in the clinical interview?

Snyder (2002) defines hope as a cognitive state whose presence favors people’s ability to pursue their goals and is the result of the interaction between: mental goals , paths towards the goal and the perceived ability to achieve goals. objective ( agency ).

According to the scholar, once a person has identified a goal, there is a continuous interaction between the imagined paths to reach the goal and agentic thinking . People with higher hopes are more likely to be fluid, creative, and flexible about what path will work to achieve their goal (Snyder, 1994). This is particularly important in TSS, as clients who do not return in most cases for further sessions will have the opportunity to independently develop alternative pathways to address their issues.




In conclusion, by adopting hope theory as a theoretical framework for the practice of Single Session Therapy, clinicians can begin to isolate hope more intentionally in their work. While principles of SST practice exist and help guide clinical practice, hope is nevertheless an important active component that SST therapists can use to maximize the single-session experience and activate clients’ hope quickly and effectively. efficient straight away.



Angelica Giannetti
Psychologist, Psychotherapist
Team of the Italian Center
for Single Session Therapy



Asay, T. P., & Lambert, M. J. (1999). The empirical case for the common factors in therapy: Quantitative findings. In M. A. Hubble, B. L. Duncan, & S. D. Miller (Eds.), The heart and soul of change: What works in therapy (pp. 23–55). American Psychological Association.

Bloom, B. L. (2001). Focused singlesession psychotherapy: A review of the clinical and research literature. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1(1), 75–86.

Cannistrà, F., & Piccirilli, F. (2018). Single Sitting Therapy: Principi e pratiche . To the editor.

Courtnage, A. (2020). Hoping for change: The role of hope in Single-session therapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2020, pp. 49–63

Duncan, B. L., Miller, S. D., & Sparks, J. (2004). The heroic client: A revolutionary way to improve effectiveness through client-directied, outcome-informed therapy (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Hanna, F. J. (2002). Therapy with difficult clients: Using the precursors model to awaken change. American Psychological Association.

Herrestad, H., Biong, S., McCormack, B., Borg, M., & Karlsson, B. (2014). A pragmatist approach to the hope discourse in health care research. Nursing Philosophy, 15(3), 211–220.

Larsen, D., Edey, W., & Lemay, L. (2007). Understanding the role of hope in counselling: Exploring the intentional uses of hope. Counselling Psychology Quarterly 20(4), 401–416.

Reiter, D. (2010). Hope and expectancy in solution focused brief therapy. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 21, 132–148.

Slive, A., & Bobele, M. (2012). Walk-in counselling services: Making the most of one hour. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 33(1), 27–38.

Snyder, C. R. (1994). The psychology of hope: You can get there from here. Free Press.

Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological, Inquiry, 13(4), 249–275.

Stalker, C. A., Horton, S., & Cait, C.-A. (2012). Single-session therapy in a walk-in counseling clinic: A pilot study. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 31(1), 38–52.

Talmon, M. (2012). When less is more: Lessons from 25 years of attempting to maximize the effect of each (and often only) therapeutic encounter. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 33(1), 6–14.

Weingarten, K. (2010). Reasonable hope: Construct, clinical applications, and supports. Family Process, 49(1), 5–25.

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Rosita Del Medico

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