Brief Therapy

Evaluation of

Short-Term Counseling

Those who refer to counseling programs, such as "THEFT TALK"T Counseling Service, which use a brief therapy model, reasonably ask the question about the value and efficacy of short-term counseling. There have been a large number of evaluation studies on this brief therapy model, enough so that there are now a number of published reviews and critical analyses of these evaluations (Bloom, 1984; Butcher and Koss, 1978; Casey and Berman, 1985; Cummings and Vandenbos, 1979; Koss and Butcher, 1986; Koss, Butcher, and Strupp, 1986; Malan, 1963, pp. 15-36; Malan et al., 1968; Meltzoff and Korneich, 1970; Parad, 1971; Philip and Wiener, 1966, pp.27-58; Ryder, 1988; Sloane et al., 1975; Small, 1979, pp. 324-345; Smith, Glass, and Miller, 1980; Strupp, 1980e).

Virtually without exception, the empirical studies of short-term out-patient counseling (see, for example, Bloom, 1984, pp.98-101; Gelso and Johnson, 1983; Kiesler, 1982; Mattes, Rosen, and Klein, 1977; Mattes et al., 1977; Rosen et al., 1976; Sifneos, 1968) have found that planned and structured short-term counseling is essentially equally effective as time-unlimited counseling, virtually regardless of diagnosis or treatment duration (Koss and Butcher, 1986). "Indeed, perhaps no other finding has been reported with greater regularity in the mental health literature than the equivalence of effect of time-limited and time-unlimited psychotherapy." (Bloom, 1992).

Some of the research is nonquantitative in design, or based on small samples (e.g., Barkham, 1989; Gottschalk, Mayerson, and Gottlieb, 1967; Grand et al., 1985; Kaffman, 1963; Lewin, 1970, pp. 245-261; H.J. Parad and L.G. Parad, 1968; L.G. Parad and L.G. Parad, 1968; Sifneos, 1972, pp.124-143; Strupp, 1980s, 1980b, 1980c, 1980d; see also Schlesinger, 1984).

However, many large and well-designed research evaluations of short-term counseling have been published (see, for example, Blowers, Cobb and Mathews, 1987; Brockman et al., 1987; Brodaty and Andrews, 1983; Elkins, Weissberg, and Cowen, 1988; Gallagher and Thompson, 1983; Hawton et al., 1987; Husby et al., 1985; Meyers et al., 1981; Piper et al., 1984; Rosenthal and Levine, 1970, 1971; Stuhr, Meyer, and Bolz, 1981; Thompson, Gallagher, and Breckenridge, 1987; Waring et al., 1988).

A representative conclusion of the numerous reviews of the relationship of treatment duration to outcome is that of Koss and Butcher (1986), who commented:

"Those studies that have directly compared brief and long-term methods have found equal effectiveness. Since brief therapy requires less time (both therapist and patient) and therefore less social cost, it has been suggested that brief methods are equally effective and more cost effective than long-term therapy" (p. 658).

The short-term therapy literature strongly indicates that the efficacy of short-term counseling, like that of "THEFT TALK" T is indistinguishable from that of long-term counseling. and that long-term counseling relationships may provide more counseling than is needed (Budman and Stone, 1983; Cummngs, 1986; Klerman, 1983; McGuire and Frisman, 1983).

"THEFT TALK's"T research found unwavering, consistent and remarkable efficacy data supporting its short- term counseling model.

Copyright ©1983-2009"THEFT TALK"T Counseling Service Inc. All rights reserved.



Barkham, M. (1989). Brief prescriptive therapy in two-plus-one sessions: initial cases from the clinic. Behavioural Psychotherapy, 17, 161-175.

Bloom, B. L. (1984). Community mental health: A general introduction (2nd ed.). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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Blowers, C., Cobb, J., Mathews, A. (1987). Generalized anxiety: A controlled TX study. Behavior Research and Therapy, 25, 493-502.

Brockman, B., Poynton, A., Ryle, A., & Watson, J. P. (1987). Effectiveness of time-limited therapy carried out by trainees: Comparisn of two methods. British Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 602-610.

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Butcher, J. N., & Koss, M. P. (1978). Research on brief and crisis-oriented therapies. In S. L. Garfield & A. E. Bergin (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change: An empirical analysis (2nd ed.) (pp. 725-767). New York: Wiley.

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Elkins, I. W. E., Weissberg, R. P., & Cowen, E. L. (1988). Evaluation of a planned short-term intervention for schoolchildren with focal adjustment problems. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 17, 106-115.

Gallagher, D. E., & Thompson, L. W. (1983). Effectiveness of psychotherapy for both endogenous and nonendogenous depression in older adult outpatients. Journal of Gerontology, 38, 707-712,

Gelso, J. E., & Johnson, D. H. (1983). Exploration in time-limited counseling and psychotherapy. New York: Teachers College Press.

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Hawton, K., McKeown, S., Day, A., Martin, P., O'Connor, M., & Yule, J. (1987). Evaluation of out-patient counselling compared with general practitioner care following overdoses. Psychological Medicine, 17, 751-761.

Husby, R., Dahl, A. A., Dahl, C-I., Heiberg, A. N., Olafsen, O. M., & Weisaeth, L. (1985). Short-term dynamic psychotherapy: II. Prognostic value of characteristics of patients studied bya 2-year follow-up of 39 neurotic patients. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 43, 8-16.

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Koss, M. P., Butcher, J. N. & Strupp, H. H. (1986). Brief psychotharapy methods in clinical research. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 60-67.

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