SST to take stock of the situation – the experience of a single session therapy in a long-term family journey

SST to take stock of the situation – the experience of a single session therapy in a long-term family journey

In how many ways can Single Session Therapy find its effectiveness?

How many of you will have asked yourself this question when you found yourself in a position to introduce it into your own professional practice, thinking, for example, of experimenting it with already started courses.

In today’s article we will show you how the use of SST can be extended not only to different areas of intervention (e.g. families, couples, emergencies), but can also perform various functions , without losing its value and effectiveness. 

But what is meant by different use and function?

As we have said several times, TSS, in addition to being able to be used as a single intervention in itself , can also be applied in horizontal therapeutic paths (Cannistrà & Pciccirilli, 2018) which provide for the creation of multiple single and/or intermittent meetings through which to obtain objectives specific, related for example to a general goal .


So what is the specificity that we will deal with today?

The aim of the article, therefore, is to discover how SST can also be used as a moment of “fine-tuning” of a long-term therapy path, referring to the experience of a single-session family therapy carried out at the Bouverie Center in Melbourne by Dr Karen Story , a social worker and psychotherapist specializing in working with children, adolescents and families and a member of the Acquired Brain Iniury (ABI) of the same centre.


Let’s go into detail!

The path described by the doctor concerns a family known over the years by the Bouverie Center for the treatment of various problems to which Single Session Therapy was proposed during the path . The use of TSS has encouraged the resilience and adaptability of the core necessary to manage the difficulties that have arisen following the permanent brain damage suffered by one of the parents.


Why did Dr. Story choose to introduce TSS to a family with so many needs?

The choice was made to meet the developmental needs of the different core members who had been followed for many years. In this way they were guaranteed a space which, although “intermittent” , continued to make sense as representative of a service provision model, designed to be sensitive to the needs of family development and natural personal and family crises which it crosses.


What were the results achieved from the point of view of the family?

The family at the center of the study reported in the follow-up that they believe that the long single-session approach is very useful for dealing with emergencies in a timely manner, preventing the formation and development of even more serious problems.


What did the case study concentrate on instead?

There were three questions that Dr. Story asked herself for the study of the case:

  • Does the persistent problem necessarily require long-term (and continuous) therapeutic interventions?
  • Do families experiencing such difficulties actually need or want long-term (continuous) therapy?
  • Can moment-to-moment therapy, with each session discrete and complete in itself, be meaningful and helpful for families and individuals with seemingly intractable conditions such as Acquired Brain Iniury (ABI)?


What were the key interventions for each single session?

Once the type of intervention has been explained to the family and the preliminary steps for starting the work session have been completed, the single-session intervention focuses on these three questions:

  1. what is the main problem to face today?
  2. what is the second biggest problem?
  3. the context question: are there any other difficulties you are facing now? another version of the question is the “magic bullet” one: if therapy were successful, what would you and your family do differently?

 At the end of the session, however, each family member will be asked “What is the one thing or the main thing you will take away from today’s session?”



Today’s example was able to show us how the use of Single Session Therapy can take on different functions, adapting to people’s real needs. Starting from the latter of the latter is in fact the fundamental objective for conducting a truly useful and effective intervention.



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




Cannistrà, F. Piccirilli, F. Single session therapy. Principles and practices. Giunti publisher, 2018.

Hoyt, M.F., Bobele, M., Slive, A., Young, J., Talmon, M. (2018). Single – Session Therapy by Walk -In or Appointment: Administrative, Clinical, and Supervisory Aspects of One – at- a – Time Services. New York: Routledge.


Subscribe now and stay updated with important Single Session Therapy news and the next SST Symposium (in Italy)!

Rosita Del Medico

I commenti sono chiusi.