brief psychotherapy

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any of a number of related techniques for treating mental illness by psychologic methods. These techniques are similar in that they all rely mainly on establishing a relationship between the therapist and the patient as a means of developing the patient's insight into the motivation behind his or her behavior. On occasion, drugs may be used, but only in order to make this communication easier.
Forms of Psychotherapy. Perhaps the best known form of psychotherapy is psychoanalysis, the technique developed by Dr. Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis attempts, through free association and dream interpretation, to reveal and resolve the unconscious conflicts that are at the root of mental illness.

Closely related to psychoanalysis is analytically oriented therapy, or “brief therapy.” This uses some of the techniques of psychoanalysis, but tends to concentrate on the patient's present-life difficulties rather than on the unconscious roots of these difficulties.

One widely used technique is group therapy. Six to ten patients meet regularly to discuss their problems under the guidance of a group therapist. Group therapy is based on the principle of transference—that is, a patient tends to react to others in terms of his childhood attitudes toward family members. During group therapy, he may react to one member of the group as a hated rival brother, and to another as a dominating mother. In the give-and-take of discussion, he will begin to recognize the distortions in these reactions, and to see similar distortions in his day-to-day relationships with other people. Group therapy may be combined with individual therapy. Group therapy can help reduce the cost to each patient. It is also widely used in mental health centers, where it has helped relieve the great shortage of trained therapists.

Adjunctive therapy, such as occupational therapy and music therapy, is helpful in relieving tensions and emotional problems that are associated with a feeling of uselessness. Psychodrama, in which patients act out fantasies or real-life situations, may provide a means of communication for patients who are not capable of expressing their problem by speech.

Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy adapted to children. It is very difficult to induce an emotionally disturbed or even a normal child to talk about his problems. Play therapy provides an alternative. Children reveal themselves when they play with toys provided by the therapist and act out their fantasies. The therapist helps them “get things out of their system,” accepting them warmly as they are, and guiding them toward a solution to their problems. Since these are closely related to the way children are treated at home, play therapy is usually combined with some form of therapy for the parents. Family group therapy, in which the entire family meets regularly with the therapist, can be particularly effective.

Cognitive therapy is based on the idea that a person's feelings and behavior result from that person's perceptions of the world and that psychological disturbances result from faulty ways of thinking. The therapist is active in helping the patient to restructure his or her distorted perceptions, using a combination of verbal and behavior modification techniques.
brief psychotherapy psychotherapy limited to a preagreed number of sessions, generally 10 to 20, or termination date. It is usually active and directive, and often oriented toward a specific problem or symptom.
psychoanalytic psychotherapy psychoanalysis (def. 3).
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

brief psy·cho·ther·a·py

any form of psychotherapy or counseling designed to produce emotional or behavioral therapeutic change within a minimal amount of time (generally not more than 20 sessions). Brief therapy is usually active and directive; it is more clearly indicated when there are clearly defined symptoms or problems, and where the goals are limited and specific.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
Brief Counseling Center was founded by Mark Jacobson, M.S., a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (#IMT1451), specializing in relationship counseling using various therapy techniques, including Solution Focused Brief Therapy. For more information visit
Although cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) with a problem solving component (Slee, Garnefski, Van Der Leeden, Arensman, & Spinhoven, 2008), acceptance based emotion regulation group therapy (Gratz & Gunderson, 2006), psychodynamic interpersonal therapy (Guthrie et al., 2001), and solution focused brief therapy (Lamprecht et al., 2007) have produced positive results, their efficacy is limited to nonforensic populations.
One such brief model is solution focused brief therapy (SFBT), developed originally by Steve De Shazer in the 1980s.
Drawing on 16-plus years of solution focused brief therapy (SFBT) practice, training and supervision, and conversations with skilled practitioners, therapists, and very skilled clients, UK-based Hanton presents a practical guide for mental health practitioners.
King is an expert in solution focused brief therapy, which focuses on what clients want to achieve through therapy rather than on problems.
Brief Counseling Center was founded by Mark Jacobson, M.S., a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (#IMT1451), specializing in couples counseling using various relational therapy techniques, including Solution Focused Brief Therapy. For more information visit
is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern specializing in couples counseling using various family therapy techniques, including Solution Focused Brief Therapy. He is supervised by Randy Heller, PhD, LMFT, LMHC, CHT and on-site by Wayne Brown, LCSW, CAP, CHT.

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