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Walk-In Clinic


A Model for Single Session Therapy BY JOAN D’SOUZA


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n June 2017, Catholic Family Services of Peel-Dufferin completed 10 years of conducting the Walk-In Counselling Clinic with service locations in Brampton and Mississauga, Ontario. In that time, 16,487 people were served. The walk-in clinic provided a single therapeutic encounter between client and therapist, in a timely


and affordable manner. The service delivered was characterized by treating each session as if it were the only one, while laying the foundation for ongoing work, if needed. Evaluation data showed that, overall, clients experienced an increase in hopefulness and resilience, were provided with information to other services and resources and were served in a manner sensitive to their culture, background and other life circumstances.


HOW USEFUL IS JUST A SINGLE THERAPY SESSION?


Walk-in single session therapy is a form of brief therapy that challenges the idea that long-term change can only come through on-going, laborious sessions. There is consistent evidence of the effec- tiveness of brief interventions in the literature (Bloom, 2001; Campbell, 1999; Talmon, 1990). Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant shift in psychotherapy towards a briefer form of therapy. Research has shown that typically most of the improvement in therapy occurs in the initial session (Hubble, Duncan, & Miller 1999; Seligman, 1995). Budman, Hoyt, and Friedman (1992) have reviewed the literature and outlined the many ben- efits of a single therapy session. Studies of single session therapy have been found useful in treating family/marital stress (Brown, 1984), adolescent cri- ses (Slaff, 1995), drug and alcohol addiction (Miller, 2000), as well as managing long-waitlists (Coren, 2001).


THE CANADIAN COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY ASSOCIATION SUMMER 2019


Walk-in sessions are both similar to, and different from, single session therapy. Both treat each ses- sion as a complete therapy in and of itself. In both approaches, the client presents a concern and a goal(s) is constructed. Clients develop a plan on how to address their issues and gain an increased awareness of their strengths and resources. The obvious difference is that walk-in sessions require no appointment and there is no prior screening. A “by appointment” single session offers the possi- bility of screening clients and prior assessment.


One question that arises is whether single session therapy is contra-indicated for certain client popu- lations. Is it that the more difficult, severe, compli- cated or chronic the client presentation, the less likely a single session is to be recommended? A single session in such cases might be a misnomer. A successful single session leaves open the possi- bility of further ongoing work if needed, while be- ing open to acting on risk concerns as they arise in


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