SST and Research: Can a Single Group CBT Session Be Effective for Treating Insomnia?

SST and Research: Can a Single Group CBT Session Be Effective for Treating Insomnia?

With today ‘s article we report the data of a research carried out in 2013 at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana , California aimed at demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiency of Group Single Session Therapy associated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the treatment of chronic insomnia ( TCC-I ).


What was the objective of the research?

Dennis Hwang , Medical Director of the Department of Sleep Medicine at Kaiser Permanent says the goal of the study was not to prove whether Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was an effective treatment for insomnia, but to find out whether a different way to use it could make it effective not only for a single individual, but for a larger population .


From what need did this research arise?

Again according to Hwang, the need to find innovative solutions is linked to the fact that chronic insomnia is a very common condition that affects up to 30% of the population . Traditional programs run individually or in small groups have always required multiple visits, limiting the volume of patients who can access them. The program for the treatment of insomnia at Kaiser Permanente Fontana , however, represented a real innovation as it was carried out with a larger group of people ( 20 participants ) who participated in just one session , followed by follow-up telephone.


 How did the experimentation take place?

The center offered two weekly sessions , each lasting 2.5 hours with a maximum of 20 people experiencing chronic insomnia.

The program, taught by a physician assistant , addressed sleep hygiene, sleep beliefs, relaxation techniques, sleep restriction therapy, and optimal sleep position.


What results were obtained?

 The following data emerged from research findings presented at the SLEEP 2013: Associated Professional Sleep Societies 27th Annual Meeting conference:

321 (88%) of 363 adults with insomnia who completed the TCC-I program reported improvement in their insomnia based on subjective feedback .

Overall sleep time improved by an average of 1.5 hours , and time to fall asleep

decreased from 51 to 22 minutes .

The 134 patients taking sleep medications reduced their use from approximately 6 to 4 nights per week, and 41 patients (30%) stopped using sleep aids altogether.

The improvements were similar for men and women; shift workers; those with obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, or restless legs syndrome, and those taking antidepressant medications.


Were the subjective data also supported by objective data?

From a comparison with doctors’ offices and refills in pharmacies 1 year after and 1 year before the program, it was observed:

decrease in primary care office encounters (an average decrease of approximately 1 office visit) after attending the insomnia program.

gradual decrease in pharmacy refills the year after the program, especially sleep medications and antidepressants.



From the study presented it emerged that the combination of a Single Session of CBT-I with the group format was effective for the treatment of insomnia. Starting from this experience we can conclude that the use of the Single Session Therapy method associated with intervention models that are already effective in the individual encounter can increase their efficiency, making them accessible to a greater population, as in this experiment.


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




Cannistrà, F., & Piccirilli, F. (2018). Single Session Therapy: Principles and Practices . Giunti Editore.

Brooks, M. (2013). Single Sessession Group CBT Effective for Insomnia. Medscape, from 2/205 giugno 2013.

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