My Short-Term Therapy Approach

Brief Symptom and solution based counseling

Brief symptom and solution based counseling has become popular for many reasons.  The obvious being a shorter time frame with direct focus on problem solving is less expense for clients and insurance plans.  More therapeutic reasons include the client’s need for solutions to pressing problems such as relational conflicts (e.g., at home, work or school) or intense anxiety or depression.  Treatment goals focus more on solutions to your problems or emotional suffering rather than an in depth exploration of their sources or origins.  But symptom relief and deeper self exploration do not have to be mutually exclusive, and both can be addressed in the brief counseling that I offer.  This therapy can also be a good starting point for someone new to therapy.  In fact, many times after completing brief counseling, clients decide to continue with a more long term psychotherapy.  Below is more information describing how I think about and practice brief counseling with clients.

What do you mean by “brief” therapy?

There are two parts of brief (or short-term) therapy that stand out.  These are duration and therapeutic goals.  Generally, duration is three to six months and the number of session is roughly between six and twelve.  Sessions are once a week or twice a month and depend in part on the client’s urgency to work on the problem.  The goals in this timeframe are specific to the presenting problem. Less session time is spent on exploring “why” you have the problem and more time is spent on helping you find a way to manage, deal with, and solve the problem.  This is where my extensive training in multiple types of treatment can be used to enhance your work on problem solving.  For example, there may be times when briefly exploring the origins of your problem will help you feel more confident in the solutions you choose.  Paying some attention to the origins of a problems (and triggers that continue to fuel it) helps a person develop a more detailed set of solutions to deal with that problem.

What should I expect if I engaged in brief therapy with you?

Expect that we will be less interested in things like “fault” or “blame,” “right or wrong” and more focused on how you can effectively deal with, manage and solve your problems and emotional suffering.  Again, the primary focus will be oriented toward problem solving.  Treatment is less on “why” and more on “what”.  We will work together to find solutions to your problems and emotional suffering.  Therefore, expect that I won’t give “advice” but that together we will help you find your own solutions to your problems.  After all, it is your life not mine, and you will live the solutions, not me.  Therefore, we must help you create solutions that make sense to you.  Expect to be an equal and effective participant in the work of creating solutions.

How is this different from longer therapy such as psychotherapy?

The goals and objectives of a long term therapy expand beyond brief therapies more symptom focused treatment.  Many times this is because the problems do not require a more immediate solution.  In psychotherapy there is more time for a client to explore and create a deeper understanding of who they are, and why they think, feel, behave and relate to others in certain ways.  One specific example is that more attention is given to the feelings created between the client and therapist.  Sometimes people feel anger, fear, distrust or other emotions toward their therapist that are similar to the feelings they experience in other relationships.  This is called “transference” and it is healthy and good because we can use it to notice what has happened between us to elicit these emotions, giving you insight into your relational experiences and responses and an opportunity to experiment with new ways of relating.

Why should I go to you rather than a community agency where I might pay less?

Good question.  Cost is an important consideration in the decision to purchase any service and a difference in cost must make sense to the consumer.  My training and experience are advanced and my treatment approach is personalized toward your specific problems.  I am committed to continued education and spend thousands of dollars ever year training with leading therapists and educators in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, neuroscience and other related fields.  My office is private.  In addition, your records are seen by me alone.  In therapy, you are choosing someone to help you deal with very personal and difficult problems and you need to feel comfortable and confident in your selection of a therapist.  My experience has been that the therapeutic fit (the relationship between client and therapist) is very important.

Fees, Insurance and Schedule

My brief therapy fee is negotiated with each client.  My belief is that therapy suffers if a client pays either too little or too much. A fee set to low, as strange as it might sound, can be indirectly insulting to your emotional suffering and problems.  That is, how can something causing you such emotional suffering be so cheap to fix?  Conversely, a fee set too high is also unproductive.  I will fill out insurance forms if there is a benefit payable to you under your insurance.  Prior to our first session, you may want to contact your insurance company to determine if there will be any insurance reimbursement.