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Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

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Sometimes we know where we want to go, we just need a road map and a little assistance to get there. The goal of solution-focused brief therapy is to help people imagine the future they want to create and then create a series of realistic steps to help them get there. As the name implies, solution-focused brief therapy focuses on finding solutions to problems rather than focusing on the problems themselves. While some therapies require clients to think about their past and how they got where they are, solution-focused therapy stays in the present and future. With help from the therapist, clients in solution-focused therapy can identify the skills they need to make changes in their lives. Then the therapist collaborates with the client to make reasonable, practical goals to bring these changes about.

3 Important Facts

  • Solution-focused therapy is short-term and goal-oriented. On average, a course of treatment is about 5-8 sessions.
  • Solution-focused therapy was developed in the 1980s by a husband-and-wife team who noticed too much therapy time was spent on talking about problems rather than solutions to problems.
  • Solution-focused brief therapists believe clients have the potential and skills to make the changes they want in their lives. They may just need a little help identifying these skills and implementing them.

Signs to Look For

Solution-focused brief therapy is used to treat a variety of mental health disorders. People with eating disorders, relationship problems, anxiety and depression, substance abuse and behavioral problems may respond well to solution-focused therapy.

What Are My Next Steps?

To discuss solution-focused treatment options, speak with a therapist who is trained in this approach. He/she will help you determine your needs and treatment options.

Common Questions and Answers About Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

Who benefits from solution-focused brief therapy?

Many people can benefit from this type of goal-oriented therapy. However, people who are eager and willing to make changes will benefit the most. If they have a goal-oriented mindset and are willing to work to achieve the outcomes they are striving for.

How does solution-focused brief therapy work?

Therapists who use a solution-focused approach employ different techniques to help their clients identify goals and skills. For example, a therapist may ask her client to imagine what his life would be like without the problem. This helps him identify small, reasonable steps he can take to eliminate the problem. Another common technique used by solution-focused therapists is to help the client identify exceptions to their patterns of problems. This helps the client start to see how things can be positively different. The goal of therapy is not to focus on the symptoms causing distress but to come up with solutions that treat the problems. When this occurs, symptoms will go away or be reduced.

How effective is solution-focused brief therapy?

More research needs to be conducted to better gauge the effectiveness of this therapy. However, research suggests that solution-based techniques can be very helpful. Still, some clients may need longer-term therapy that discusses problems as well as solutions.