SST for teacher stress management

SST for teacher stress management

School has always been and continues to be the focus of many debates . Most of these relate to
its organization and functioning . Others, on the other hand, even if to a lesser extent, focus on
the teaching profession and the possible health risks that this professional category may face.
In fact, if teaching is carried out in disorganized and fragmented contexts , where teamwork is
difficult and the achievement of common objectives can become a source of great stress .  
With today’s article we will therefore describe a Single Session Therapy intervention aimed at a
group of teachers in conditions of long-term psychophysical disability in the province of Alberta
(Canada) with the aim of maximizing their recovery . The intervention arose from a study of the
health of such teachers , most of whom were neglected in their rehabilitation period (Jevne &
Zingle, 1990).

What emerged from the data?
The research showed that teaching was considered stressful for more than 70% of the professionals
interviewed (ATA study, 1991; Jevne & Zingle, 1990; Ryan, 1992), with the degree ranging from
"very" to "extremely" stressful (Jevne & Zingle, 1990; Ryan, 1992).
Based on the information gathered, teacher associations, school districts and health professionals
have proposed a large number of interventions to help teachers cope with stress (Cole & Walker,
1989). However, the latter did not provide adequate answers, so the researchers proposed to
implement the pilot project described in this article. 
What were the goals of the intervention?
There were three specific objectives :
1. make a difference on the psychological, emotional and/or physical well-being of the
2. acquire further understanding of the rehabilitation process of professionals , i.e.
3. develop a brief intervention model for the teacher with psychophysical problems.
How was the intervention organized?

The intervention aimed at thirty-three teachers (men and women) between the ages of 32 and 62
with problems ranging from the risk of suicide to chronic debilitating disorders , involved the
following phases:
1. Initial invitation to participate
The invitation to participate was addressed to a group of teachers undergoing long-term
treatment for a disability condition. The initial ninety-five requests from volunteers interested in
the project were classified according to the severity of health conditions (high priority and low
priority) and geographic location (central, surrounding or distant).
2. Pre-session screening
Pre-session telephone interviews were conducted by an expert interviewer . The purpose of this
initial contact was to confirm the degree of need, establish rapport, gather information, and establish
a protocol for further participation.
3. Direct consultation
The consultation with each participant lasted one and a half to two hours . The format chosen
was based on an adaptation of Single Session Therapy (Talmon, 1990) combined with the use of a
reflection team . The client was given the opportunity to meet with the reflection team members
before the session started and at the end. During the session, the team watched the match from
behind the one-way mirror. Following the consultation, the team provided feedback to the
participant and the therapist. The goal was to encourage new solutions and greater responsibility for
one’s own health.
4. Follow up letter
Within one month of the consultation, a letter was sent to each participant summarizing all
the issues discussed in the consultation and recommendations for further action . This letter
was another attempt to support the person, thanking them for participating in the study, emphasizing
their strengths and efforts to recover so far.
5. Assessment
About three months after the consultation, a second follow-up letter was sent requesting an
evaluation of the project.
The results
Following the implementation of the project, it emerged that:
 participation in a research project can be a positive intervention in itself;
 personal involvement and participation in research appears to have been a positive
intervention for many teachers . For many it has involved an intense process of reflection on

the benefits received for disability; for others, a comparison of diagnostic information, self-
help activities and present and future needs;
 support is a determining factor in recovery. Many participants reported that the interview
was a turning point in their rehabilitation process. Feeling confident to speak honestly and
share feelings was seen as extremely important;
 qualified consultants are required to effectively manage a wide range of problems with a
brief intervention ;
 new insights into the emotional experience associated with the condition of disability
has proved invaluable;
 the post-interview letter represented an important reinforcement in particular of the
person’s efforts and potential;
 single session therapy was sufficient for 60% of teachers.
From a practical point of view the study demonstrated that a single therapy session with adequate
follow-up can meet the client’s needs . The evaluation of the psychological intervention showed
that the project made a "difference", directly and indirectly, in the lives of most of the teachers
involved. Respectful listening, identifying strengths and suggestions through follow-up have great
value in empowering the person and restoring a sense of autonomy, trust and independence. Finally,
even the professionals involved in the research have reacquired the need and value of the
therapeutic relationship (Jevne and Zingle, 1990).

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

Alberta Teachers’ Association/Alberta School Trustees Association (1991), “Teacher stress”,
unpublished report.
Cole, M. & Walker, S. (Eds) (1989), Teaching and Stress, Open University Press, Philadelphia, PA.
Cole, M. & Walker, S. (Eds), Teaching and Stress, Open University Press, Philadelphia, PA, pp. 4-

Jevne, R. & Zingle, H. (1990), Striving for Health: Living with Broken Dreams, Department of
Educational Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton.
Ryan, D. (1992), “Teacher empowerment: a needs assessment”,

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