Brief Therapy

Some ICC therapists offer brief psychotherapy to people who wish to focus on specific issues or aspects of their lives which are causing difficulties.

An initial consultation is usually offered and is helpful in identifying and articulating what the issues might be, how long might be needed, and to set the therapy goals.

The number of sessions is arranged at the outset and may be just a few weekly sessions or 30-40 weekly sessions.

Psychoanalytic principles underpin the therapy but with less emphasis on free association, whereby patients talk at random about anything that comes to mind. There is more of a focus on the issues identified and the goals set, so the therapist is likely to be more active in the sessions, holding to the focus and attending to the here-and-now interactions.

Freud’s original approach to psychoanalysis was, by modern standards, extremely brief and occasionally consisted of no more than a brisk walk in the Vienna woods with the master. In 1906 he treated the conductor Bruno Walter in six sessions. Several years later, he cured Gustav Mahler's impotence in four hours.

Brief therapy seems most useful where the problem can be identified and expressed clearly. It has been shown to be helpful in cases of depression, or where there are relationship problems, difficult situations at work, some sexual problems, or where help is needed to clarify and make difficult decisions. Longstanding or entrenched obsessions or phobias are unlikely to be alleviated by brief psychotherapy.