Applying Intersubjective System Theory in a University Counseling Center

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Peter Buirski

Second Advisor

Fernand Lubuguin

Third Advisor

Scott Shiebler


University counseling center, Intersubjective System Theory, Long-term therapy, Students


The purpose of this thesis is to explore the application of intersubjective systems theory (IST) within a university counseling center (UCC). To date, there is no literature that explores the utility or effectiveness using IST in UCCs. What follows in this study is a literature review on intersubjective systems theory, a few relevant brief dynamic therapies, the typical use of brief therapy models in UCCs, and finally a case example. IST is generally considered a long-term therapy, however the case study presented in this study hopes to demonstrate how to use a relational model within in a short-term setting. UCCs are increasingly facing higher demands for direct clinical services and are also important entity on university campuses for promoting mental health services, social justice and education for students. Importantly, social justice consciousness is an effort to be able to allow all students to reach someone at a UCC, whether it is for one appointment or a referral. However, many brief therapies utilized at UCCs have strict rule out policies about what types of students can benefit from therapy. In general, IST does not attempt to foreclose therapy but rather join in the subjective experience of another to help them make sense of themselves and others.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


67 pages

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