Solution Focused Brief Therapy

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    Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is an approach to therapy developed during the 1980’s by a team lead by husband and wife Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. Unlike other kinds of counselling and psychotherapy, it doesn’t begin with and explore the client’s difficulties. Nor does it focus on the history and frequency of their problems. Rather Solution Focused Brief Therapy begins with what the client’s preferred future might look like. How they would like to feel, manage and cope with certain difficulties.

    The essence of SFBT involves looking for strengths and resources rather than difficulties and deficits. It is an approach that involves looking at how the client manages change, rather than diagnosing or treating problems. It’s focuses on exploring possible and preferred futures. It looks to help build on what is already contributing to that future. The constructive questioning and goal setting techniques can enable the client to develop their own solution building processes. It enables the client to tap into and develop their own problem solving skills.

    The shift between SFBT and other forms of counselling comes from De Shazer’s belief in client co-operation. He believed that client resistance was unhelpful. He believed a collaborative approach was much more beneficial, as opposed to the therapist being seen as an expert.

    When faced with difficult emotions and experiences in the counselling sessions the therapist respects and validates the clients experience. However the process moves to an exploration of a preferred situation rather than further exploration or dwelling on the difficulties. Other differences include from assessing problems to assessing solutions, the belief that change doesn’t have to be difficult, recognizing that change constantly happens. SFBT also has a different line of questioning as well. For example from, “How did you feel about that?” to “How have you coped with that up until now?”

    SFBT has more than twenty five years research behind it and is the preferred modality of counselling for many organisations and agencies. It is particularly popular with those providing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) due to it being both a time bound and an evidence based approach.

    It has also proved to be a popular approach by both therapists and clients due to it’s direct focus towards motivation and change. Many of the skills and techniques are transferable in other areas. Life coaches and mediators use some of the same approaches.


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    This article was written by sentientcounselling