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Single-Session Psychotherapy: The Cab Driver Story

Here’s a story that came out of the American Psychological Association (APA) conference:

I was in a cab going to dinner. The cab driver found out I was a psychiatrist so he told me about his life-changing experience with therapy.

At one time he was having an incredible problem with his life. He was using cocaine, couldn’t keep a job, and his relationships were going down the tubes. Therapy helped him quit cocaine and change all that. (Which was good, since he was the driver of my cab. I really wanted him not to be high or in distress.) This kind of turn-around story isn’t unusual for me — parolees will often come back and tell me about things they’ve done in free society that they’re proud of. The unusual part of this story is the fact that he made all of these changes after a single one-hour session.

Okay, that got my attention. What was it about this therapist? What happened in the session? I had to ask all the questions.

The cab driver told me that it wasn’t so much what the therapist said, but rather who she was. She was a kindly, older woman who was sincere and compassionate. She told him he needed to start taking care of himself, eat better, get enough sleep, etc.

And that worked. Geez, I was impressed. It changed his life. The last remaining habit he wanted to fix was his smoking. He wanted to go back and see his therapist again, but she had retired. He was sorry he couldn’t go back — and so was I.

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*


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