Single-Session Brief Counseling in a High School


  • John M. Littrell,

    Corresponding author
    • N221A Lagomarcino Hall, Department of Professional Studies, Iowa State University Ames, IA 50011.

    Search for more papers by this author
    • John M. Littrell is a professor of counselor education at Iowa State University, Ames.

  • Julia A. Malia,

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Julia A. Malia is an assistant professor in child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

  • Mike Vander Wood

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Mike Vanderwood is a doctoral student in school psychology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


Counseling designed to be time-limited is a valuable tool for counselors in school settings. Three approaches to brief counseling were investigated in this naturalistic study: problem-focused with task, problem-focused without task, and solution-focused with task. Quantitative and qualitative measures were used to explore aspects of single-session brief counseling. High school students made significant changes from the second-week follow-up to the sixth-week follow-up in alleviating their concerns and increasing the percentage of goal achieved. Students dramatically decreased the intensity of undesired feelings from before the counseling session through the second follow-up. Solution-focused counseling was as effective as the other two approaches, while taking less time.