What is Single Session Coaching?

What are the principles of SST?

Single Session Therapy uses two important principles:

  1. one-at-a-time
    Deal with one issue per session to ensure optimum focus.
  2. at the point of need
    Do a session when the issue is current. Use the motivation, the urgency of the moment.

In principle, people have everything they need to cope well with difficulties.

The key pillars on which SST is built:

  • Personal strengths: In principle, people have everything they need to cope with difficulties. Often, all that is needed is a push in the right direction to recognise their own skills and resources. People themselves know best what will work for them and what will not.
  • Timing: if people can get help immediately when they need it, they can quickly make adjustments using the urgency of the moment. It motivates. Knowing that a coach is always at your fingertips is reassuring and helpful.
  • Focus: the session focuses on the current situation, on a single issue; what is going on right now? what does the client want to get out of the session? The focus is on what the clients can and wants to do right now, not on in-depth (self) research.
  • Mindset; the conviction that one session can produce a valuable change. Much research shows that people experience strong improvement at the beginning of the therapy process and that the effect per session decreases the longer the therapy lasts.

SST is a way of working, not a specific therapeutic method. Coaches can use the approaches and techniques they are used to working with within SST.

Single Session Coaching and One-at-a-Time Coaching
Dryden, W. (2020).

What makes SST Coaching unique?

Focus on the current situation
One Session does not focus on in-depth (self) research. We offer concrete help with issues that are relevant now. An employee who is stuck, or who simply wants to invest in him- or herself: that is our expertise. With a practical, personal conversation, we offer employees sufficient grips to be able to get back on track.

Strengthening talent
Your employees already have what it takes to deal with a difficult situation. We merely give them the push they need in the right direction. Nobody can solve all their problems by themselves; sometimes someone has to hold up a mirror to them, or make them look at the situation from a distance. That alone can be very enlightening.

Concrete advice
Insight alone is not enough to get employees moving. The aim of the conversation is to set things in motion again. We provide useful tools so that your people can achieve their own goals.

We offer concrete help with issues that are relevant now.

Mindset at a Session
It’s all about the one conversation. No intake or multi-session treatment plans. It needs to happen in one session. The fact that your employees know this makes a huge difference. It motivates them to get the most out of that one session, to be more active, and to think in terms of concrete steps.

Personal
The conversation does have a structure – with a focus on the current situation and concrete advice – but will different every session. Every person and every situation needs a different approach. Our psychologists are very experienced and flexible. They have the right toolset for every employee in every situation.

Capturing the Moment Single-session therapy and walk-in services
Hoyt, M.F. & Talmon, M. (2014)

It is remarkable how effective, enjoyable and inspiring a session can be when both the client and the coach assume that every session could be the only one.

It is remarkable how effective, enjoyable and inspiring a session can be when both client and coach assume that every session could be the only one. Client and coach can then concentrate fully on this moment, on this situation. The coach gives all he or she has to offer, but the clients is responsible for taking the next steps. The coach shows how the client can take responsibility for the change the client wants to bring about.

Trust in the ability of people to deal with difficulties themselves is central to SST. The role of the coach is mainly to help the client to use his or her own skills, talents, relevant experiences, strengths and resources. The coach is one of these resources that is called upon by the client. This can be done once or more often. The control lies with the client.

At SST, the client and the coach work together to find a good answer to a current issue. This does not mean that everything will be solved in that one session. The aim is to help the client get back on track so that he or she can continue on their own. With a sense of relief and more hope.

The exact outcome depends on the situation, the question, and the client’s wishes. Sometimes a different perspective will help the client to move on. In other cases, this may be a practical plan the first step of which is practised in the session.

The effect of the session can go beyond the client’s current situation. A little adjustment in the present can produce a very different long-term outcome. And not only with regard to the original question; often people also experience a positive effect in other areas of their lives. (Slive, 2009, Hoyt, & Talmon, 2014)

The SST coach uses his or her expertise to ask the right questions, keep the focus in the conversation, give information if necessary, give options for alternative views or possible action and help to choose an option and practice.

Want to discuss the possibilities for your organisation?

E-mail me: [email protected] 
or call: +31 20-2445-216.

You can also book a video call directly in my calendar.
After booking, you will get the Zoom link in the confirmation email. 

How long does Single Session Therapy exist?

Single Session Therapy was first named in 1990 by Dr. Moshe Talmon in his book “Single Session Therapy: Maximising the Effect of the First (and often Only) Therapeutic Encounter”.

Ever since Freud, therapy has often consisted of just one session. Not because it was meant to be, but because clients did not come back after the first session. This has long been seen by psychologists as a failure of treatment.

Until the experienced psychologist Moshe Talmon in the 1980s in America gathered the courage to call his 200 clients who had not returned after the first session to ask what had gone ‘wrong’. To his surprise, the majority (78%) of the people were actually satisfied. So satisfied, in fact, that they thought the one session was enough at that point.

This was an eye-opener for Talmon and his colleagues Michael Hoyt and Robert Rosenbaum. They were trained in the tradition of long-term, intensive therapy that lasted years rather than months. A course of 40 to 20 sessions was already considered short. Now they saw that only one session could do the trick. Their research into SST yielded this insights, among others. Later research confirmed these first insights.

Ever since Freud, therapy has often consisted of just one session.

  • Independent on the diagnosis, complexity or severity of the problems for which people are seeking help, the most common number of client sessions is 1, then 2, then 3, etc. (Talmon, 1990Simon, 2012)
  • The majority of people who attend only one session are satisfied with that session. On average 70-80% of people say that the one session is enough in the current situation.  (Talmon, 1990Bloom, 2001Campbell, 2012).
  • It is not easy to predict who will attend only one session, and who will (want to) attend more sessions (Talmon, 1990)

They concluded that ‘single sessions’ are very common and have a lot of potential. If one session is the most common therapy ‘route’, then you better make sure that this one session is used as much as possible. And give people the option of choosing a single session.

From there, SST was further developed and researched, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries. In America, besides Talmon, Hoyt and Rosenbaum, it was also researched by Monte Bobele and Arnold Slive. In Australia, it was researched by Jeff Young and Pam Rycroft and in England by Windy Dryden. The provision of SST is growing steadily, both as ‘walk-in’ therapy, where people can drop in without an appointment, and by appointment (Hoyt, 2018Mcelheran, 2020).

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud

Is one session always sufficient?

Singel Session Coaching (SST) can consist of a single session but it does not have to. The core is that both client and coach assume that the current session can be the only session. Client and coach therefore work together to make that one session valuable and to ensure that the client can continue on his own after the session.

A variant of SST is One-At-A-Time (OAAT). This name makes it clearer that there is always an option for follow-up sessions.

SST and OAAT are offered in a variety of settings, from large organisations with several branches to one-man practices. In large organisations, SST or OAAT can be offered as a standard first option. Those who are not sufficiently helped by the session can then opt for a subsequent SST/OAAT session or a longer process starting with an intake.

Within SST and OAAT, a follow-up appointment is never scheduled immediately.

SST or OAAT always stands on its own and is not used as an intake for a longer process. Even if the advice is to start a follow-up programme elsewhere or in the same organisation, the aim is still to ensure that the session is valuable in itself and gives the client something to take further with him or her.

Within SST and OAAT, a follow-up appointment is never planned immediately. Clients are encouraged to first reflect on the session. To try out, evaluate and adjust any chosen follow-up steps. After some time has passed, the client can better assess the effect of the session and decide whether or not a next session is necessary.

Single Session Integrated CBT (SSI-CBT)
Dryden, W. (2017)

What is Single Session Coaching suitable for?

Single Session Therapy is suitable for anyone who needs mental support for an issue at hand. For example, consider the following:

  • Emotional problems such as fear, gloom, shame, guilt, anger and jealousy
  • Dilemmas, doubts
  • Relation problems at home and at work
  • Emergency issues. For example: changing jobs, getting married or divorced, having children, empty nest, retirement
  • Problems with self-discipline, procrastination
  • Mourning
  • Help in taking an important decision.

Single Session Therapy is suitable for an issue at hand.

  • coaching questions. For example, how can I get more out of myself and my career? How can I give my life more direction? What are important values for me and how can I live more by them? 
  • Prevention. For example of burn out and relationship problems 
  • Questions about parenting
  • Changing habits
  • Clarifying the situation
  • Clarifying the focus; should I focus on myself so that I am less bothered by the situation or is the problem mainly in the environment and should I deal with that? 
  • Clarifying what can and cannot be controlled
  • Tension complaints, burn out complaints
  • Sleeping problems
When One Hour is All You Have: Effective Therapy for Walk-in Clients.
Slive, A. & Bobele, M. (2011)

Who is Single Session Coaching suitable for?

Succesvolle SST ontstaat door een goede samenwerking tussen de cliënt en de coach. SST Coaching werkt het best bij mensen die:

  • Nú iets willen veranderen in hun leven en bereid zijn tot actie.
  • Bereid zijn hun eigen aandeel in moeilijkheden te zien en daar verantwoordelijkheid voor te nemen. 
  • Erop vertrouwen dat je in één sessie vooruit kan komen en tegelijk realistisch zijn over wat je in één sessie kan bereiken. 
  • Bereid zijn open te zijn over waar ze mee zitten.
  • Open staan voor suggesties van anderen.
  • Bereid zijn zich te focussen op één concreet vraagstuk 
  • Bereid zijn zich in te spannen in de sessie en vooral ook daarna, om de gekozen stappen ook echt te gaan zetten. 
  • Bereid zijn open te zijn over waar ze mee zitten.

Single Session Therapy is suitable for anyone who needs mental support.

  • Be open to suggestions from others.
  • Be prepared to focus on one concrete issue 
  • Be prepared to put in the effort during the session and especially afterwards, to actually take the chosen steps.
  • See therapy as the normal ‘MOT’ that you sometimes need throughout life to live your best life.
  • Recognise that they have skills and talents that they can use.
  • Be prepared to ask for and accept help from people around them.

Note: SST is not a replacement for longer therapy sessions. For example, SST is not suitable for the treatment of personality problems. This does not mean that people with these problems cannot benefit from SST.People are never just their ‘diagnosis’ and also have ‘normal’ problems that can be treated in a Single Session.

Single-Session Therapy by Walk-In or Appointment: Administrative, Clinical, and Supervisory Aspects of One-at-a-Time Services.
Hoyt, Bobele, Slive, Young & Talmon (2018).

Pilot package

The best way to find out how SST-Coaching can work for your organisation is to experience it.
This is easy with our pilot package.

  • Within 24 hours of the order confirmation, you get a company code with which employees can book a session. 
  • 10 sessions / € 1750 excl. vat.

Fill in the form and within one hour you will receive a non-binding quotation/order confirmation and information about the package.

What are characteristics of a good SST coach?

SST requires a lot of flexibility and creativity from a coach. He or she must be able to react quickly to what happens in the session, quickly establish good contact and have the confidence that he or she can give the client something valuable in the session.

To do this, the coach must be able to draw on a wide range of knowledge and experience for a variety of issues and be able to adapt quickly to the personal preferences of the client.

Therapeutic approaches that can be used for various issues such as CBT REBT and ACT are a good basis.

Experience with the method used is important. SST does not follow protocol so the coach must have all the knowledge ready. A large toolbox with tools that he or she knows well and can easily use so that a choice can be made quickly what to use in this specific situation.

A good Single Session Coach helps the client to focus on his abilities.

A good SST coach:

  • Helps the client to focus on the agreed topic. Asks permission, with explanation, to intervene if the session threatens to stray and does so. Too much ratio gives insight, but not the emotional impact needed to actually take action. Too much emotion can feel good; the heart is emptied, but there is no clear idea about the next steps.
  • Respects the choices, culture and beliefs of each client.
  • Is experienced and flexible enough to be effective without protocol and without sticking to a specific theory. 
  • Acknowledges that he or she does not know everything and can be surprised by the session and learn from the client.
  • Has an eye for the possible obstacles and pain of change without discouraging the client. 
  • Helps clients distinguish between what he or she can control and what not, and focus on the former. 
  • Is focused on the desired future, not on the past and the roots of the problem. 
Single Session Therapy- Maximizing the Effect of the First (and Often Only) Therapeutic Encounter
Talmon, M (1990)

Therapeutic relationship in one session?

The ‘therapeutic relationship’ is an important ingredient of effective therapy. In SST, of course, there is no time to gradually build a relationship, but that need not be an obstacle to good cooperation.

With shared expectations and a shared goal, good contact can be established quickly. Goal and expectations are therefore discussed at the start of the session, with the coach’s sincere intention to help the client as best as possible.

Openness and clarity are important. For example, about what can and cannot be achieved in one session.

The wishes and wisdom of the client are always central. This not only benefits the contact, but also the effectiveness (Davis, 2012; Laska, 2014).

Client and coach discuss the exact topic and realistic goal of the session, but it is the client who decides.

The fact it is an one-off encounter actually helps in the contact.

If, along the way, there are choices for different paths, the coach puts them to the client. The client chooses. The coach monitors, with the consent of the client, the agenda.

The possibility of choosing a single session ensures a better connection with the client. Clients usually see shorter trajectories ahead than coaching (Barret, 2008; Scamardo, 2004) and often find one session enough (Carey, 2013; Hymmen 2013).

Finally, the one-off encounter can actually help in the contact (Dryden, 2019). People often feel freer to discuss personal topics with someone ‘outside their own world’. Like when meeting someone on a distant journey. Knowing that you will never see someone again and that there are no ties to your life can make contact easier and more intense and sometimes leave a lasting impression.

Single-Session Therapy (SST): 100 Key Points and Techniques.
Dryden, W. (2019)

Give your employees One Session

Contact us for the possibilities

Read more about Single Session Therapy?

Books

Talmon, M (1990)
Single Session Therapy: Maximizing the Effect of the First (and Often Only) Therapeutic Encounter
San Francisco, Jossey – bass

Dryden, W. (2019) 
Single-Session Therapy: 100 Key Points and Techniques.
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Hoyt, M.F., & Talmon, M. (Eds.). (2014)
Capturing the Moment: Single Session Therapy and Walk-in Services.
Bethel, CT: Crown House Publishing Ltd.

Dryden, W. (2017)
Single-Session Integrated CBT (SSI-CBT): Distinctive Features.
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

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

Slive, A., & Bobele, M. (Eds). (2011)
When One Hour is All You Have: Effective Therapy for Walk-in Clients.
Phoenix, AZ: Zeig, Tucker & Theisen.

Dryden, W. (2020)
Single-Session Coaching and One-At-A-Time Coaching – Distinctive Features.
New York: Routledge.

Articles

Bloom, Bernard. (2001)
Focused Single-Session Psychotherapy: A Review of the Clinical and Research Literature. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention. 1. 10.1093/brief-treatment/1.1.75.
bron: researchgate.net

Campbell, A. (2012)
Single-Session Approaches to Therapy: Time to Review. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy. 33. 10.1017/aft.2012.3.
bron: onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Dochat, J. S. Wooldridge, M. S. Herbert, M.W. Lee, N.Afari, (2021)
Single-session acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) interventions for patients with chronic health conditions: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, Volume 20, 2021, Pages 52-69.
bron: sciencedirect.com

Ewen, V. & Mushquash, A. & Mushquash, C. & Bailey, K. & Haggarty, J. & Stones, M. (2018)
Single-session therapy in outpatient mental health services: Examining the effect on mental health symptoms and functioning. Social Work in Mental Health. 16. 10.1080/15332985.2018.1456503
bron: tandfonline.com

Harper-Jaques, S. & Foucault, D. (2014)
Walk-In Single-Session Therapy: Client Satisfaction and Clinical Outcomes. Journal of Systemic Therapies. 33. 29-49. 10.1521/jsyt.2014.33.3.29.
researchgate.net

Hoyt, M.F., & Dryden, W. (2018). Toward the future of single- session therapy: An Interview. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 37(1), 79-89.
bron: guilfordjournals.com

Hymmen, P. Stalker, C.A., & Cait, C-A. (2013)
The case for single-session therapy: Does the empirical evidence support the increased prevalence of this service delivery model? Journal of Mental Health, 22(1): 60–67.
bron: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Matthews, K. (2018)
The Integration of Emotion-Focused Therapy within Single-Session Therapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies. 37. 15-28. 10.1521/jsyt.2018.37.4.15.
pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Schleider, J. L., Sung, J. Y., Bianco, A., Gonzalez, A., Vivian, D., & Mullarkey, M. C. (2021). Open Pilot Trial of a Single-Session Consultation Service for Clients on Psychotherapy Wait-Lists. The Behavior Therapist, 44(1), 8-15. abct.org

Schleider, J.L., Dobias, M.L., Mullarkey, M.C. et al. (2021). Retiring, Rethinking, and Reconstructing the Norm of Once-Weekly Psychotherapy. Adm Policy Ment Health 48, 4–8 (2021). doi.org

Slaff, B. (1995). Thoughts on short-term and single-session therapy. Adolescent psychiatry. 20. 299-306. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Slive, A. (2008). Special Section: Walk-In Single Session Therapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies. 27. 1-4. 10.1521/jsyt.2008.27.4.1. researchgate.net

Slive, A. & McElheran, N. & Lawson, A. (2008). How Brief Does It Get? Walk-In Single Session Therapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies. 27. 5-22. 10.1521/jsyt.2008.27.4.5. researchgate.net

Stalker, C. & Horton, S. & Cait. (2012). Single session therapy in walk-in counselling clinics: A pilot study of who attends and how they fare afterwards. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 31(1), 38-52. researchgate.net

Young, J. & Dryden, W. (2019). Single-session therapy – past and future: an interview. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling. 47. 1-10. 10.1080/03069885.2019.1581129. researchgate.net

Young, J. & Rycroft, P. (2012). Single Session Therapy: What’s in a Name?. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy. 33. 10.1017/aft.2012.1 researchgate.net

Young, K & Jebreen, J. (2019). Recognizing Single-Session Therapy as Psychotherapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies. 38. 31-44. 10.1521/jsyt.2019.38.4.31. researchgate.net

Single Session Therapy- Maximizing the Effect of the First (and Often Only) Therapeutic Encounter
Talmon, M (1990)
Single-Session Therapy (SST): 100 Key Points and Techniques.
Dryden, W. (2019)
Capturing the Moment Single-session therapy and walk-in services
Hoyt, M.F. & Talmon, M. (2014)
Single Session Integrated CBT (SSI-CBT)
Dryden, W. (2017)
Single-Session Therapy by Walk-In or Appointment: Administrative, Clinical, and Supervisory Aspects of One-at-a-Time Services.
Hoyt, Bobele, Slive, Young & Talmon (2018).Hoyt, Bobele, Slive, Young & Talmon (2018).
When One Hour is All You Have: Effective Therapy for Walk-in Clients.
Slive, A. & Bobele, M. (2011)