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Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

What is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

Solution-focused brief therapy (also just called solution-focused therapy) is a therapeutic approach that means to help a person through a current problem they have or help them achieve a particular goal in the near future.

It was developed in the 1980s by therapists Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg SFBT and uses a goal-oriented approach different from other forms of psychotherapy that does not include looking into one´s past experiences.

The aim of solution-focused therapy is really to find immediate and effective solutions to a problem or guide a person through the necessary steps they will need to take to achieve a particular goal.

How Solution-focused brief therapy works

The solution-focused approach to therapy generally starts with goal setting. During therapy sessions, the clinician will first have you clearly identify and set a particular goal for the therapy before diving into a series of questions.

This will give them a better sense of your situation so that they can then give you the tools you will need to achieve your goal.

Specific question types generally used by clinicians during solution-focused brief therapy sessions with clients:

Coping Questions:

questions used to help a person recognize and become aware of what coping mechanisms work and do not work for them (ex. What do you do to manage your anxiety at work?)

Miracle Questions:

questions used to have a person imagine a future where their problem is absent or they have achieved the goal they wanted – this helps guide the person towards determining the first steps they can take to address their issue

Scaling Questions:

questions often asked using a scale of 1-10 to assess a person´s current state and monitor their level of progress so the therapist can get a better idea of how the person is doing especially if that person is having difficulty with coping or miracle questions

Exception Questions:

questions used to have a person reflect back on a time when their problem was not present – this can help guide the person towards finding a solution

How many sessions are needed?

While the number of therapy sessions needed still varies from person to person, solution-focused brief therapy is different from the average sessions of traditional psychotherapies and requires a significantly lower number of sessions in total.

Types of Issues Treated in Solution-Focused Therapy

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy can help with a wide range of issues including:

Who Might Benefit from Solution-Focused Therapy?

The solution-focused approach can be used in therapy with children, individual adults, couples, and families. It may be used on its own or alongside other therapeutic approaches depending on the presenting issue or concern.

Solution-Focused therapy is usually best for people who have a clear problem and goal already in mind and just need a mental health professional to help guide them in the right direction.

However, solution-focused brief therapy is not generally recommended for more severe or distressing psychological or mental health concerns.