Brief Therapy


Evaluation of

Short-Term Counseling


Those who refer to counseling programs, such as "THEFT TALK"™, 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" ™ 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"™ research found unwavering, consistent and remarkable efficacy data supporting its short- term counseling model.







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

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

Bloom, B. L. (1992). Planned Short-Term Psychotherapy, A Clinical handbook. (pp. 9)Allyn & Bacon.

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: Comparison of two methods. British Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 602-610.

Brodaty, H., & Andres, G. (1983). Brief psychotherapy in family practice: A controlled prospective intervention trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 11-19.

Budman, S. H., & Stone, J. (1983). Advances in brief psychotherapy: A review of recent literature. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 34, 939-946.

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.

Casey, R. J., & Berman, J. S. (1985). The outcome of psychotherapy with children. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 388-400.

Cummings, N. A., & Vandenbos, G. R. (1979). The general practice of psychology. Professional Psychology, 10, 430-440.

Cummngs, N. A. (1986). The dismantling of our health system: Strategies for the survival of psychological practice. American Psychologist, 41, 426-431.

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 non endogenous 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.

Gottschalk, L. A., Mayerson, P., & Gottlieb, E. M. (1967). Short-term group treatment of depressed women: A replication study in Great Britain. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 1, 111-124.

Grand, S., Rechetnick, J., Podrug, D., & Schwager, E. (1985) Transference in brief psychotherapy: An approach to the study of psychoanalytic process. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.

Hawton, K., McKeown, S., Day, A., Martin, P., O'Connor, M., & Yule, J. (1987). Evaluation of outpatient counseling 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.

Kaffman, M. (1963). Short term family therapy. Family Process, 2, 216-234.

Kiesler, C. A. (1982). Mental hospitals and alternative care: Non institutionalization as potential public policy for mental patients. American Psychologist, 37, 1051-1057.

Klerman, G. L. (1983). The efficacy of psychotherapy as the basis for public policy. American Psychologist, 38, 929-934.

Koss, M. P., & Butcher, J. N. (1986). Research on brief psychotherapy. In A. E. Bergin & S. L. Garfield (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change: An empirical analysis (3rd ed.) (pp. 627-670). New York: Wiley.

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

Lewin, K. K. (1970). Brief encounters: Brief psychotherapy. St. Louis, MO: Green.

Malan, D. H. (1963). A Study of brief psychotherapy, London: Tavistock.

Malan. D. H., Rayner, E. H., Bacal, H. A., Heath, E. S., & Balfour, F. H. G. (1968). Psychodynamic assessment of the outcome of psychotherapy. In R. Porter (Ed.), The role of learning in psychotherapy (pp. 61-67). Boston: Little, Brown.

Mattes, J. A., Rosen, B., & Klein, D. F. (1977). Comparison of the clinical effectiveness of "short" versus "long" stay psychiatric hospitalization. II. Further results of a 3-year post hospital follow-up. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 165, 387-394.

Mattes, J. A., Rosen, B., Klein, D. F., & Millan, D. (1977). Comparison of the clinical effectiveness of "short" versus "long" stay psychiatric hospitalization. III. Results of a 3-year post hospital follow-up. Jouranal of Nervous and Mental disease, 165, 395-402.

McGuire, T. G. & Frisman, L. K. (1983). Reimbursement policy and cost-effective mental health care. American Psychologist, 38, 17-38.

Meltzoffm, J., & Korneich, M. (1970). Research in psychotherapy, New York: Atherton.

Meyer, A-E., Bolz, W., Sturh, U., & Burzig, G. (1981). VI. Outcome results by clinical evaluation based on the blind group ratings. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 35, 199-207.

Parad, L. G. (1971). Short-term treatment: An overview of historical trends, issues, and potentials. Smith College , 41, 119-146.

Phillips, E. L., & Wiener, D. N. (1966). Short-term psychotherapy and structured behavior change. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Piper, W. E., Debanne, E. G., Beinvenu, J. P., & Garant, J. (1984). A comparative study of four forms of psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52, 268-279.

Rosen, B., Katzoff, A., Carrillo, C., & Klein, D. F. (1976). Clinical effectiveness of "short" vs. "long" psychiatric hospitalization. I. Inpatient results. Archives of General Psychiatry, 33, 1316-1322.

Rosenthal, A. & Levine, S. (1970, 71). Brief psychotherapy with children. American Journal of Psychiatry, 127, 646-651 & 128, 141-146.

Ryder, D. (1988). Minimal intervention: A little quality for a lot of quantity? Behavior Change, 5, 100-107.

Schlesinger, H. J. (1984). Research in dynamic psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 1, 83-84.

Sloane, R. B., Staples, F. R., Cristol, A. H., Yorkton, N. J., & Whipple, K. (1975). Short-term analytically oriented psychotherapy versus behavior therapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 132, 373-377.

Small, L. (1979). The briefer psychotherapies (rev. ed.). New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Smith, M. L., Glass, G. V., & Miller, T. I. (1980). The benefits of psychotherapy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins university Press.

Sifneos, P. E. (1968). Learning to solve emotional problems: A controlled study of short-term anxiety -provoking psychotherapy. In R. Porter (Ed.), The role of learning in psychotherapy (pp. 87-99). Boston: Little, Brown.

Sifneos, P. E. (1972). Short-term dynamic psychotherapy: and emotional crisis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Strupp, H. H. (1980a). Success and failure in time-limited psychotherapy. Archives of General Psychiatry, 37, 595-603.

Strupp, H. H. (1980b). Success and failure in time-limited psychotherapy: A systematic comparison of two cases, Comparison 2. Archives of General Psychiatry, 37, 708-716.

Strupp, H. H. (1980c). Success and failure in time-limited psychotherapy: Further evidence (Comparison 4). Archives of General Psychiatry, 37, 947-954.

Strupp, H. H. (1980d). Success and failure in time-limited psychotherapy with special reference to the performance of a lay counselor. Archives of General Psychiatry, 37, 831-841.

Strupp, H. H. (1980e). Problems of research., Short-term dynamic psychotherapy (pp. 379-392). Northvale, NJ: Aronson.

Stuhr, U., Meyer, A-E, & Bolz, W. (1981). V. Outcome results in psychological tests. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 35, 138-198.

Thompson, L. W., Gallagher, E., & Breckenridge, J. S. (1987). Comparative effectiveness of psychotherapies for depressed elders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 385-390. 5/96




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