Brief Strategic Therapy: FAQ

Does strategic therapy work?
Data collected in the last 30 years confirmed the high efficacy of strategic therapy, ranging from a median of 88% for all disorders, peaking at 95% in anxiety disorders.
Three, 6 and 12-month follow-up sessions confirm that outcomes are maintained over time, with minimal incidence of relapse and no symptom displacement.

How long therapeutic sessions last?
Duration is not preset, but depends on the problem, phase of treatment and the goal of the specific session. First sessions usually last longer, 30 to 60 minutes or more, following ones are 20-40-minute long.

What is the interval between sessions?
Sessions are every other week, or weekly depending on the problem and personal necessity. After initial improvement, they are spaced apart (every 3, 4 or even 8 weeks), to allow the person to practice his/her newfound resources and abilities, reinforce change and become more and more independent from the therapist. When treatment is completed, the therapist schedules 3 follow-up sessions, at 3, 6 and 12 months, to make sure all outcomes are maintained over time.

How long is a strategic therapy?
There is no preset number of sessions: it depends on each situation. An average figure is about 10. After initial improvement, therapy continues by consolidating results and promoting new skills and understanding, to maintain effects over time and avoid relapse.

I don’t think I have a serious problem, but I am distressed: do I need psychotherapy?
If a person has no acute or incapacitating problems, he/she can benefit from brief strategic counseling, usually in less than 5 sessions. Counseling is especially useful in distressed couples, difficulties with coworkers, parent-child issues, and so on.

A person I love has a problem, but refuses to consult a specialist. What can I do?
Maybe he/she is not aware of having a problem, or perhaps does not want help. It is a common situation with adolescents, which may have an actual disorder (eating disorder, phobia, etc.), difficulties at school or social problems. In these cases, the therapist will meet with the parents first, giving indications on how to manage their son/daughter. This is sometimes sufficient, and the therapy will continue “indirectly”, with the parents becoming “co-therapist”. Other times, this may be the first step to persuade the adolescent to come and see the therapist.
With couples, the therapist works with one partner, coaching him/her on how to manage the difficult relationship: again, this may continue as an indirect intervention, or may motivate the other partner to see the therapist.

Is strategic therapy good for children?
Yes, it is extremely effective with children. We prefer not to see the child directly, unless absolutely necessary, therefore avoiding any pathological “labeling”. Therapy is conducted through the parents, which are actual “co-therapists”, giving them clear indications on how to handle their child. Changing the family context and interactions is usually sufficient to rapidly bring about the desired change.