E1.2 Collaboration: Integrating Single Session Thinking into each and every counselling session


Sandra Martel-Acworth
Relationships Australia NSW

Loret Runagall
Relationships Australia NSW

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Time: 4:25pm – 4:55pm

Room: Room 5

E1.2 Partnering and Cohabitation

Collaboration: Integrating Single Session Thinking into each and every counselling session


This presentation shares with participants our counselling program’s journey of integrating Single Session Thinking (SST) and its collaborative focus, introduced to us by the Bouverie Centre, into our counselling service with individuals, couples, and families. We will share our learning and the challenges we have overcome along the way and provide examples of where it has assisted our practice. SST is a framework that can be integrated into all counselling models, emphasising counsellor and client collaboration and transparency, encouraging clients to be active, set goals and take ownership of change in their lives and relationships.

Our main learning has been to embed SST in each and every session, rather than being limited to the first session. Overcoming the misunderstanding that SST only refers to a first session has been integral in us adopting this framework in a counselling program that often struggles to not feel overwhelmed with the complexity of the cases that present. Integrating the core skills of SST, in particular overt engagement and collaboration with clients in the journey of change, has allowed counsellors to ‘tighten’ their practice at a time when counselling has become a scarce resource.

The presentation will include:

  • A brief overview of our whole of service change management process and learning
  • A brief overview of the core SST skills
  • Case examples of where core SST skills have enhanced counselling practice
  • Share some client experiences of SST
  • How counsellors have utilised core SST skills to maximise the usefulness of the first session for clients who might only attend once
  • How counsellors have integrated SST skills into the counselling models they already use each and every session with clients attending ongoing sessions
  • Sharing our learning when providing ongoing counselling of how to keep a focus on clients overarching goal and case plan, to ensure counselling doesn’t slip into a series of disconnected single counselling sessions
  • How to adjust practice when DFV is suspected or identified by counsellors.


Sandy Martel-Acworth is an individual, couple and family therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. Sandy is currently the Practice Specialist – Counselling overseeing the quality and practice of Relationship Australia’s Counselling Service across NSW. Sandy has a Masters of Couple and Family Therapy and is a Registered Psychologist.

Loret Runagall is an individual, couple and family therapist with 13 years of clinical experience. She holds post graduate qualifications in counselling and couple and family relationship counselling. Loret is currently the Counselling Team leader for both the Penrith and Bathurst Counselling teams, part of Relationships Australia NSW.