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Short-Term Psychotherapy

  1. Jeffrey L. Binder

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0869

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Binder, J. L. 2010. Short-Term Psychotherapy. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Argosy University, Atlanta

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Short-term psychotherapy can refer to an agreement about the duration of therapy, either by setting a specific number of sessions (typically between 1 and 25 to 30) or by setting a calendar date for the maximum length of treatment (typically no more than several months). Short-term psychotherapy also can refer to explicitly setting specific goals and predicting their achievement within approximately 25 sessions or less. In the broadest sense, short-term therapy can refer to the therapist's mind-set in four respects: (1) Chronic problems can be overcome, and significant psychological and interpersonal changes can be facilitated in a relatively brief period of time; (2) even people with severe psychopathology have potential psychological resources that can be activated in treatment with the therapist's encouragement; (3) the patient's experience in therapy can catalyze changes in broad areas of his or her life through actions taken between sessions and after formal therapy ends; and (4) there is no way to predict how much can be accomplished in therapy if the therapist works to make every minute of every session count (Budman & Gurman, 1988; Hoyt, 2003).


  • brief psychotherapy;
  • short-term psychotherapy;
  • time-limited psychotherapy