Single session therapy: Helping you get back on track

When you find you have a particular issue that you want help with sooner rather than later, single session therapy can help.


Rather than a specific counselling approach, it is a way of delivering therapy that is designed to help you address a specific problem or issue in one session. It is based on the view that people have the resources and strengths to solve their problems. The role of the therapist is to help the client identify and access these resources. 

When you go into the session, you and your counsellor will have an agreed focus of the session and a plan for your next steps. This means that it is bespoke and specially tailored to meet your needs at the time you have the session. The focus of the session is then to help you identify and implement solutions to the issue being addressed.  

Single session therapy is a one-time session of solution-focused, brief therapy to help you work through one specific issue quickly, by offering you short-term support and guidance. After the session, you'll be able to take some action and move forward on your own. It is important to note that the therapy doesn't have to stop there, however. If it's agreed between you and your therapist that more sessions would be helpful they can be made available. 

While single session therapy is a relatively new approach to therapy, it is effective for a variety of concerns. Research has shown that single session therapy can be effective for issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, relationship problems, family and parenting issues, work issues and life transitions. Some problems need more in-depth support than a single session can provide, and your therapist will advise you on this.

Single session therapy can help you to:

  • Navigate challenges in your relationships and find ways to communicate more effectively.
  • Find the right tools and coping mechanisms to help you manage your anxiety and stress.
  • Give you the support and guidance you need to help you handle transitions and changes.
  • Find ways to feel more positive and boost your confidence.

The session is a collaborative process, where you work together with your therapist to create a plan for change. This means that, together, you will clarify what the problem is, develop a plan and then ensure you have a clear plan of action for the next steps that you will implement.    

It is important that you come into the session prepared, so think about what it is that you would like to get from it. Your therapist may well send you a worksheet that will help you with this. 

How does it work?

During the session, you and your counsellor will:

  • Agree on the focus of the session.
  • Decide on the goal that you are working on.
  • Keep on track.
  • Focus on your strengths.
  • Identify the resources you have around you.
  • Work out your options and alternatives.
  • Define what has and has not worked for you in the past.
  • Work out your next steps.

After the session, it is important that you give yourself some time to reflect on what has been discussed. You can then put the agreed plan or next steps into action. 

Single session therapy is not a quick fix, but it can be an extremely helpful way to start to implement change. It isn't just for when you're struggling with a problem; it's also a great way to build skills, such as communication, assertiveness, self-awareness and problem-solving.

Some other benefits of single session therapy:

  • It gives you the support and guidance you need to cope with your problem.
  • It can help you identify goals and develop a clear plan to move forward.
  • It’s a great way to get an idea of therapy and to see if it’s right for you.

If you are interested in learning more about single session therapy and seeing if it would be a good fit for you, please get in touch with me.  

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People who are constantly rushing, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted as a result. I specialise in relationships, family issues and parenting teens and tweens. Contact me for an introductory chat by phone.

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