SOLUTION-FOCUSED BRIEF THERAPY
THEORISTS: STEVE DE SHAZER and INSOO KIM BERG
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy grew out of the work of the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto (MRI). However, unlike other models, proponents of Solution-Focused therapy believe that it is not necessary to understand a problem in order to resolve it and that the solution may not be directly related to the problem. While focusing on the client’s strengths and resources, solution-focused therapists help clients identify and repeat behaviors in which they were engaged when the problem did not exist.
- Goals should be concrete, attainable, and stated in positive terms (i.e., “increase periods of enjoyable activities,” rather than “reduce depression”)
- Help clients shift from “problem talk” to “solution talk”
- Guide clients to identify their own strengths and resources
- Build on successful past solutions to solve problems
- Help the client identify attainable goals
- Identify exceptions to the problems
- Compliment the client’s strengths and times in which the client was able to overcome the problem
- Therapist-client relationship is crucial; particularly the therapist’s ability to convey hope and understanding
- Visitors are typically brought into therapy by an outsider such as a parent, spouse, or the court system, and do not bring a specific problem to therapy or commit to participate in treatment.
- A complainant voluntarily attends therapy to have his/her problem solved by an expert; complainants often present with a specific problem, but typically is unwilling to initiate change.
- A client who is open for treatment and voluntarily attends therapy with both a problem and a desire to work towards resolving it.
- A client’s personal, relational, financial, social, and/or spiritual resources.
- Miracle Question
- An intervention used to clarify a client’s goals: “Suppose one night, while you were asleep, there was a miracle and this problem was solved. How would you know? What would be different?”
- Exception Questions
- Clients are asked to recall any times when the problem was not present, or when they were able to solve the problem on their own, i.e., “When was the problem not a problem?”
- Scaling Questions
- Clients are asked to rate on a scale of 1-10, how they are currently feeling in relation to how they were feeling when the presenting problem was at its worst. The therapist follows this up by asking what it would take the client to rate him/herself higher on the scale.
- Coping Questions
- Coping questions ask clients to identify how they have been able to cope with a current or past difficult or similar situation.
- Compliments are utilized to highlight the client’s progress, strengths, and resources.
- Formula first session task
- A technique used by the therapist to identify a client’s strengths by asking him/her to observe his/her life between the first and second session to notice what he/she would like to continue to have happen.
ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT
- Identify client’s degree of motivation (i.e., visitor, complainant, or customer)
- Awareness that client is the expert of his/her own reality
- Therapist pays close attention to language and meaning
- Therapist does not need to know the problem in order to find the solution
- Therapist assesses for the possibility of unexplored solutions and meanings
- Identify any exceptions and determine if client can identify exceptions
- Therapist focuses on past and present exceptions to identify client’s strengths and resources
- Therapist helps client to establish goals through the use of the “miracle question” and the “formula first session task”
- Compliment client, highlight and encourage small changes
- Continue to encourage doing more of what already works
STANCE OF THE THERAPIST
- Non-normative and non-pathologizing
- Brief treatment
- Focuses client away from problems (moves from “problem-talk” to “solution-talk”)