Single-session psychotherapy for depression: is it better to focus on problems or solutions?

Sundstrom, Sara
Major Professor
Douglas L. Epperson
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
Journal Issue

This study investigated the effect of a single session of either problem-focused or solution-focused psychotherapy on depressed mood, self-esteem, and perceptions of the counselor in female college students. Forty students scoring from 12 to 30 on the Beck Depression Inventory served as subjects. Twenty-one female counselors conducted the therapy sessions. A short follow-up occurred one week later to assess change, debrief participants, and refer them for further treatment if indicated;Problem-focused therapy consisted of assessing depressive symptomatology, exploring clients' concerns, discussing causes for the difficulties, and pinpointing negative coping techniques. Solution-focused therapy was designed to greatly minimize talk about problems. Clients were encouraged to explore positive coping techniques they were already employing or had employed in the past and to construct a vision of life without the depression;Scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Depression Adjective Checklist Form E (DACL), and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (SES), were used to assess changes in mood and self-worth from pre-treatment to post-treatment within and across treatment conditions. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) using a repeated measures model, followed by paired-t comparisons when appropriate, revealed within subjects improvement on the BDI and the DACL but not on the SES. No between subjects differences in outcome were found on any of these measures;The Counselor Rating Form-Short Form (CRF-S) was used to assess post-treatment differences in perceptions of the counselors across conditions. A multivariate analysis of variance revealed no between subjects differences in perceptions of counselors on the dimensions of attractiveness, expertness, and trustworthiness;It was concluded that a single session of psychotherapy is associated with positive change in mood but not in self-esteem in female college students. It was also concluded that there is no overall difference in effectiveness between a single session of problem-focused and solution-focused therapy.