How We Adapted the Five-Part Model

As noted previously, we utilize the EFC model as the basis of our single session structure: each session is treated as a whole therapy, we focus on client-centered theory of change, and we use the Five-Part Milan Model (Boscolo, Cecchin, Hoffman, & Penn, 1987; see Stewart et al., 2018). One of the key shifts in focus using this modality is to emphasize the clients’ capacities rather than deficits while focusing on the clients’ strengths and resources to assist them in solving their problems (Clements, McElheran, Hackney, & Park, 2011). To illustrate, we include a case study of the third coauthor’s (MMcD) first independently conducted SST with a student- client, whom we will name Amber. The therapist is a staff psychologist who adopted the model and joined the team after positive experiences participating on the single session consulting team.

Pre-Session: Paperwork

Upon arrival for her session, Amber was asked to complete pre-session paperwork that was adapted from the intake paperwork used at EFC, along with the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms-34 (Locke et al., 2012), which is a self-report measure of psychological symptoms and distress that is required at all clinical appointments at the agency. The therapist was also able to review the Brief Assessment note ahead of time and, if indicated, organize a colleague with specific expertise (e.g., eating disorders, ADHD, trauma) to be available for the consultation, as we do not have the capability to always refer directly to a single session therapist who has a particular specialty.

Using the intake information collected prior to the start of Amber’s session, the therapist knew that Amber was a 20-year-old Chinese American lesbian-identified woman, who was a first-generation college student at the university. Amber’s identified goals for the single session included: wanting strategies to cope with family distress; learning how to respond better to her romantic partner; and help with knowing how/ whether to continue contact with a “difficult” parent. Upon reviewing the intake information, the therapist thought to herself, “How is a single session possibly going to be sufficient?” She sought out consultation with AMR and GH prior to beginning the session, during which she received reminders to focus on the student’s goals for the session and explore the client’s strengths and resiliency factors.

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