With today’s article we try to answer a question that we are often asked in our training courses especially when dealing with the subject of the category of people to which it can be applied.
How can we respond?
The answer can only come from the studies and research carried out on SST in the different application fields and with the different categories of customers. In this regard, today we report the data of a study carried out by Perkins et al . (2006; 2008) on the application of SST with children and adolescents in mental health services .
What topics were addressed in the research?
The study aimed at analyzing the effectiveness of SST with children and adolescents with mental health problems involved the publication of two articles concerning two phases of the research, the first entitled The effectiveness of one session of therapy using a single-session therapy approach for children and adolescents with mental health problems (Perkins et al ., 2006) and the second The effectiveness of single session therapy in child and adolescent mental health. Part 2: An 18-month follow-up study (Perkins et al ., 2008)
What was analyzed in the first study?
In the first part of the study, the research team focused on applying solution-focused SST to 258 patients aged 5 to 15 who came to an outpatient mental health service in Melbourne over a period of 14 months.
What was analysed?
The aim was to investigate the therapeutic impact of a 2-hour Single Session of Solution Focused Family Therapy for the treatment of psychopathological problems in children and adolescents . The approach used was a single 2-hour semi-structured assessment and treatment, involving the child, family (parents and siblings) or carers (teachers or doctors).
What objectives did the single session include?
The session provided the families with an understanding of their difficulties . Starting from the analysis of the dysfunctional or successful solutions attempted , each intervention focused on the development of tasks and strategies useful for increasing the self-efficacy of the client and the family , giving hope and confidence in the ability to manage problems . The sessions, in addition to maintaining the typical structure of the SST method, incorporated within them the key elements of a diagnostic evaluation session .
What were the results?
Following the implementation of the SST intervention there were several important findings summarized below:
- the treatment group showed statistically and clinically significant improvement on all measures where the initial mean clinical severity was high;
- the treatment group’s improvement from pre- to post-treatment was similar to the improvement in previous SST studies (eg, Campbell, 1999);
- the level of client satisfaction with the therapy was similar to or higher than that reported in previous SST studies (e.g., Hampson et al. , 1999);
- The results of this study showed similarities to various other studies of uncontrolled SST and to studies using other forms of psychotherapy . The improvement in problem severity in 74.3% of customers and improvement in problem frequency in 71.4% of customers is consistent with that of previous TSS studies (Boyhan 1996; Price, 1994) which found improvements in 63 -78% of customers.
While in the second study what was analysed?
The second part of the research focused on maintaining the benefits of a single planned SST treatment over an 18-month period . We also investigated the impact of a 6-week delay in initiating therapy and the impact of additional therapy during the 18-month period.
What results did this investigation lead to?
In summary, the study found that the short-term benefits of a TSS (measured 1 month after therapy) were sustained for 18 months after the initial consultation . Treatment delay (within 6 weeks) does not appear to have either a short- or long-term impact on outcomes. An additional finding was that approximately 60% of the group made significant clinical improvement after one therapy session. Otherwise, one or more sessions were provided to consolidate the change or maintain the improvements.
In conclusion, this study demonstrates that the use of a single solution-focused family therapy session not only leads to an improvement in the clinical picture of children and adolescents presenting with various mental health problems, but also allows for the provision of early assessment and treatment . giving clients the opportunity where possible to manage problems on their own, increasing hope and a sense of self-efficacy .
Team Psychotherapist of the Italian Center
for Single Session Therapy
Boyhan, PA (1996). Client’s perceptions of single session consultations as an option to waiting for family therapy. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy , 17(2), 85–96.
Campbell, A. (1999). Single session interventions: An example of clinical research in practice. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy , 20(4), 183–194.
Cannistrà, F., & Piccirilli, F. (2018). Single Session Therapy: Principles and Practices . Florence: Giunti Editore.
Hampson, R., O’Hanlon, J., Franklin, A., Pentony, M., Fridgant, L., & Heins, T. (1999). The place of single session family consultations: Five years experience in Canberra. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy , 20(4), 195–200.
Perkins, RH (2006). The effectiveness of one session of therapy using a single-session therapy approach for children and adolescents with mental health problems. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice , 79(2), 215–227.
Perkins, RH (2006). The effectiveness of single session therapy in child and adolescent mental health. Part 2: An 18-month follow-up study. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice , 81, 143–156.