I am a single-session therapist, and I recently saw a client for the second time – a year and a half after their first.
When Carl arrived and settled comfortably in my consulting room he outlined how things had been going for him over the past 18 months. He told me how he’d been able to solve some personal problems and move on in his life. He’d made a fresh start after the shock of some unwanted change, sorted out a number of things that he’s been worried about when we last met, and even been sleeping better. But the best thing was, he said, that he no longer felt depressed.
I congratulated him “Things are sounding good. You’re obviously doing well and it sounds to me as if you’ve achieved everything you hoped for when we last met.”
“And what’s more,” he replied, “if I’d realised how simple and helpful it would be to talk things through like that, I have tried it long ago.” He then listed some of the positive changes he’d noticed following that session, and how he’d become more confident as he re-discover things in himself he’d long forgotten.
Hearing accounts like this is not unusual for me, and it always confirms my belief in how resourceful peoples can be when they decide the time has come for change. As ever, I was curious about what further support he needed, I asked: “So what brings you here now?”
Settling comfortably into his chair he said: “I could use a bit of a top-up. I said I’d be back. It was good to know that we could talk things through again if ever I needed to, but that first session gave me enough to be getting on with at that time. Now, I’m being asked to take a step up at work and I know it’s going to stretch me. I just want to make sure I’ve got everything in place to give it my best shot.”
Single session therapy shows that dealing with emotional and personal difficulties need not be a long and painstaking process. It means that the client (in this case Carl, not his real name), has control of the process and uses it as and when they need. It is not unusual for people to come back after a time – I recently saw someone again seven years after our first meeting – just as they would return to any other professional as and when they needed their services.
For me, being brief in therapy is about doing my best to help the client find ways to fix the things in their life they want to fix. I want to make every session count and often, as Carl confirmed, the very first session is enough for the client to take charge of the problem-soving process at that time and move towards the outcomes they want.
‘Carl’ gave me permission to reproduce parts of our conversation.