A Single Session of Therapy

Brief Therapy

Since the advent of Brief Therapy in the 1980’s, a single session of therapy has been discussed as an alternative to traditional weekly therapy. This single session can be as limited as an hour, or can be seen as a day long experience in which a couple or family comes to grips with those aspects of self and relationship that have been perplexing and uncomfortable. Or it can be any length of time in between, from 60 minutes to 6 hours.

Irvin Yalom, a famous therapist and writer, described meeting a man in his late 80’s who needed only one hour long session to validate his life’s work. The man presented Dr. Yalom with his life long correspondence with a well known scholar, which he demanded that Dr. Yalom read in the session. After reading through as much as he could, Dr. Yalom concluded that the renowned scholar thought of him as an intellectual equal, and as an intimate friend. Validated, thankful, and emotionally moved, this client found what he was seeking.

It may be that one session will not work as well as that of Dr. Yalom’s client, but it can introduce and describe themes and processes that have been undermining the happiness of a couple or family. It can also be helpful to mute a crisis, or normalize a painful situation, or avert making an unproductive or destructive relational decision.

New Ways of Healing

A single session is also effective with a large extended family group struggling with the aging process of a beloved parent, or a sudden death that has thrown a family into disarray. Often, members of a family business can use a single session to get back on track economically, and can begin to differentiate between business matters and entrenched family dynamics. And gathering a blended family into a Saturday morning session, as I (Stephen Duclos) commonly do, to make more conscious decisions about the physical and mental health of its children can be very effective.

Although the idea of a single session has been undercut by the cookie cutter economics of a failed health insurance system, thinking outside the box of continuous hour long sessions can help small and large family groups and couples to develop better ways of functioning in the everyday.

For more information about single session therapy, please call us at 617-750-0183 or fill out the Contact Us section at the top of the page.