Who is single session therapy for?

Who is single session therapy for?

Terapia Seduta Singola per famiglie 2

Do you remember where we started from?

In the article The first research in Single Session Therapy, ample space was given to the report of the research by Hoyt, Talmon and Rosenbaum (1992), in which on a sample of 60 people they practiced an agreed session of Single Session Therapy.

Talmon (1990) divided three types of Single Session Therapy:

  1. Single agreed session, in which therapist and patient know from the beginning of their relationship that that session will be the only one, with the always present clause of leaving the “Open Door” to those who feel the need.
  2. Single session on the initiative of the patient, where even if the therapist deems a longer path necessary, he is interrupted by the patient, who chooses not to fix or not to present at the second meeting.
  3. Single session on the therapist’s initiative, when the therapist chooses not to schedule a second interview.

Of the three conditions, the most useful for research is certainly the agreed Single Session Therapy, precisely by virtue of this, the research of Hoyt and colleagues was set up according to this principle.

In the first systematized research, the “recruitment” criteria envisaged the reception of people with very heterogeneous characteristics. Heterogeneity also referred to the problem presented by the people who decided to participate.


Who is the Single Session Therapy for?

Hoyt and colleagues (1992) dealt with the following situations:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Reactions of adaptation to traumatic events
  • Family violence

That’s all?

Surely not!

You have had the opportunity to read the article Where to Practice Single Session Therapy and get an idea of ​​how, where and to whom Single Session Therapy can be applied with obvious positive results. Certainly, the “natural” field of application has been that of psychotherapy and psychological counseling, where TSS is now widely practiced (see for example the article Psychological counseling in a single session).

The good news, pass me the term, is how Single Session Therapy goes beyond Psychopathology.

So if on the one hand it is true that, as the research cited in the articles on our portal demonstrates, TSS is a powerful tool in the psychotherapeutic field, on the other it has been found that it can be addressed to a vast amount of cases, a powerful help in all situations which, although not necessarily falling within the field of psychopathology, require rapid and incisive support and support interventions.

But let’s try to go into detail and understand an important concept …


Who can benefit from TSS

The ideas derive from the considerations of Talmon (1990), who after the publication of Single Session Therapy realized how Single Session Therapy could be used in different situations by treating people who, for different reasons, found themselves living in problematic conditions. .

Precisely from the training, called upon to do after the release of his book, and from the comparisons with the people he met, Talmon considered the time and the usefulness, as well as what had already emerged in the 1992 research, of the Single Session Therapy aimed at different categories of people.


  1. Oncology departments

Oncological pathologies always require support for the person experiencing the disease and for the family who find themselves sharing the pain with their loved ones, facing long and painful processes in which hospitalization is frequent.

Precisely to help both the people directly affected and the reference context, attention was paid by Talmon to the training of personnel who offered advice to sick people and their families.

Today it is now a consolidated practice of cancer wards to offer psychological support to sick people and their family unit, but try to imagine, maximizing the effect of a single meeting, what the relapses could be.


  1. Anti-violence centers, dedicated to women victims of violence

The Single Session Therapy is useful both in the context of the emergency, which we have already written about in the article Where to practice Single Session Therapy, preventing the onset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and as a response to women victims of violence , shows the person the possibility of finding a balance in a short time and helping him, using the TSS according to a process structured by precise guidelines (which we will discuss in the next articles), to focus on the resources and skills, inherent in each, together with the favorable evolution of the dramatic situation experienced.


  1. Psychiatric wards

In particular, in addition to being more typical in psychotherapy, Single Session Therapy can address hospitalized people, acting in synergy with what is provided for in their therapeutic plan, further supporting the person’s family network and shared strategies aimed at promoting the best possible resolution of the critical event experienced, as well as providing a space to be accessed at any time of need.


  1. Hospital wards

The possibility of receiving support and support in hospital situations allows a reduction in both the anxious aspects, typical for example of a hospitalization, and the management of a whole series of emotional, behavioral and relational problems directly or indirectly connected to a whole series of pathologies. Already a greater understanding of the experience and a focus on resources makes it possible to alleviate anxious and depressive symptoms, to manage feelings such as anger and frustration, and to improve the patient’s conditions in general.

For example, Hoyt et al. (1992) reported that patients seen for a single psychotherapy session reported a reduction of up to 60% in the use of medical treatment.


 It does not end here

It is quite evident that Single Session Therapy has transversal uses in different situations, being able to quickly deal with different problems. Furthermore, we must not lose sight of the fact that in the situations mentioned, the time to organize subsequent appointments cannot always be guaranteed, so the opportunity to have a single work session, ergo a beginning and an end, allows you to maximize effectiveness.

Of course these are not all the fields of application of the TSS. Already in the book Capturing The Moment (Hoyt & Talmon, 2014), of which we edited the Italian edition, a various range of possible applications is described, which have broadened the perspectives initially cast by Talmon and his group.

In our free Single Session Therapy EBook. An introduction to principles and practices, we describe others, ranging from public to private contexts, from psychopathology to emergency psychology, from consulting to the business environment, from sports performance to school-related issues.

In the course of the next articles we will focus on different contexts, also presenting research and data. Furthermore, in our training workshops in Single Session Therapy, we will give ample space to practical and applicative variations, to understand how to apply TSS in one’s own reference contexts.

Starting from the simple premise that if there is a problem there will be a solution, why not try to find it in a single therapy session?


Federico Piccirilli

Psychologist, psychotherapist

Co-Founder of the Italian Center

for Single Session Therapy


Hoyt, M.F. & Talmon, M. (eds.) (2014). Capturing the Moment. Single Session Therapy and Walk-In Services. Bancyfelin, UK: Crown House.

Hoyt, M.F., Rosenbaum, R. L. & Talmon, M. (1992). Planned Single-Session Psychotherapy. In Budman, S.H., Hoyt, M.F. & Friedman, S. (a cura di), The First Session in brief Therapy (pp. 59-86). New York: Guilford Press.

Talmon, M. & Hoyt, M.F. (2014b). Moments are Forever: SST and Walk-In Services Now and In The Future. In M.F. Hoyt & M. Talmon (eds.) (2014a), op. cit., pp. 463-485.

Talmon, M., (1990). Single Session Therapy. San Francisco, Jossey Bass Publishers, (Tr. It. Psicoterapia a Seduta Singola. Trento: Centro Studi Erickson, 1996).

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Deborah De Luca

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