Patients starting psychotherapy frequently feel well enough after several sessions that the goals of therapy deserve reformulation. Patient and therapist may agree that the patient has learned a lot about the circumstances which brought him into treatment, that the patient can now work competently on his own, and that this episode of therapy can end. The patient leaves, knowing he can return to a meaningful relationship with his therapist should future problems arise. Likewise, the patient's relief of distress may be sufficient so that he does not see the need to continue therapy now or in the future; the present gains are enough. Such outcomes are termed "brief therapy." Finally, even though the current distress is greatly relieved, the patient may wish to pursue a prolonged investigation of his life style in hopes of improving his future ability to handle similar circumstances more successfully.
ROSENBAUM CP. Events of Early Therapy And Brief Therapy. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;10(5):506-512. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720230068007