Welcome to Solution Focused Brief Therapy for ARP660 & RHAB5720 Theory and Practice of Counseling.
We hope you enjoy our presentation, and look forward to your comments and feedback.
Imagine you are caught in a pouring rain. You are getting wet and decide to go to a rain gear store to purchase something to keep you dry. A store clerk greets you, and starts to ask you many questions: “How wet are you? For how long have you been in the rain? Have you been in this kind of rain before? Have you dreamed about getting wet in the rain in the past? What role did getting wet in the rain play with your family or with your loved ones? What disadvantage or advantage does getting wet in the rain have for you?” After answering all of the questions, you are still wet and getting cold. You ask if you can now buy some sort of rain gear. However, the store clerk wants you to complete some more questionnaires about getting wet in the rain and perhaps about other issues that the store clerk deems important. Once everything is completed, the store clerk brings you a poncho that you do not care for.
The clerk claims that it is the best for you and that it has helped other customers in the rain. Will you take the poncho and leave the store happily ever after?
What would you rather have instead?
The trend within psychotherapy depicts an evolution from lengthy to brief forms of treatment, and from cure to prevention. The focus shifts from mental illness to mental health. (Bannink, 2007). We would like to introduce you to a postmodern psychotherapy known as Solution-Focused Brief Therapy.
*Watch “Solution Focused coaching in one minute” from YouTube.
§ Description and Overview
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), as the name suggests, is a future-oriented, goal-directed, solution-focused, brief, and client-therapist collaborated therapy approach. This differs from the traditional lengthy problem-oriented psychotherapy. SFBT, a postmodern therapy, declares a trend “away from explanations, problems, and pathology, and toward solutions, competence, and capabilities.” (Egan, 2007).
The key concepts of SFBT consist of the following major shifts to depart from traditional psychotherapy that sought after constructing solutions from problem descriptions and speculating on causality. SFBT approaches completely reverse the interview process by initiating the interview of asking clients to describe a detailed resolution to the problem that brings them into therapy.
- Shift from past to the present and the future.
Many clients come and seek therapy with past trauma. SFBT therapists believe that clients need to liberate themselves from the past. Searching and revisiting past trauma does not help constructive therapy. Instead, therapists usually focus on the present or the future. They are more interested in what is possible, and they have little or no interest in gaining understanding of the past. (Corey, 2009).
- Shift from problem-solving to solution-focused.
Corey (2009) pointed out a statement made by Steve de Shazer, co-founder of SFBT, that it is not necessary to know the cause of a problem to solve it, and that there is no necessary relationship between the cause of problems and their solutions. Getting at causes to a problem does not solve the problem; finding solutions to a problem does. Since exploring past trauma and gathering information about problems does not contribute to positive changes, SFBT helpers emphasize assisting clients to channel their energy in making a shift from a fixed problem state to a world with new possibilities and solution options.
- Shift from hierarchical therapeutic relationships to collaborative and cooperative relationships.
There is no single solution for every problem. SFBT is a strength-based system with a solution-building approach. SFBT believes that clients are the experts on their own lives and that they have the strengths, resources, and coping skills to make positive changes. Therapists strive to facilitate collaborative partnerships with clients. They listen attentively to capture clients’ experiences and meanings, ask questions to promote clients’ new awareness for future possibilities, and empower clients to define their own measures of successful changes. The quality of the client-therapist relationship is a critical determination in the outcomes of SFBT. (McKeel, 1996). In other words, if there is no connection, there is no therapy!
De Shazer (1988) has described three types of client-therapy relationships: visitor, complainant, and customer.
- Visitor is the client who comes to therapy because someone else considers that the client has a problem. Visitor may not agree that he/she has a problem. Therefore, the client may be unable to engage in the therapy.
- Complainant is the client who expresses a problem. However, the client is unable or unwilling to assume a role in establishing a solution. Complainant generally expects therapists to change the ones to whom the complainant attributes the problem. Complainants tend to view themselves as victims of their problems.
- Customer is the client who is in cooperation with the therapist to identify a problem and a solution to work forward. Customer acknowledges that personal efforts are needed to reach the client-defined goals.
SFBT has designed different strategies to approach clients at different relationship stages. The visitor-complainant-customer relationships alter before, within, and between sessions.
McKeel (1996) indicated that many research findings show that SFBT is effective, and that many techniques of the SFBT model accomplish their intended purpose. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is one of the most popular and widely applied psychotherapy approaches in the world. It has been applied to almost all problems seen by clinicians. SFBT has been used by family therapy, couples therapy, treatment of sexual abuse, treatment of substance abuse, sex therapy, treatment of schizophrenia, interventions in social service agencies, education settings, business systems, and occupational therapy. (Trepper, Dolan, McCollum, Nelson, 2006).
Egan (2007) suggests that there have been some criticisms of a solution-focused approach. Some suspect that it runs the risk of being don’t-worry-be-happy, or being too pie-in-the-sky. Others criticize that it may disorient some clients as they are used to dealing with problems and expect answers from the experts, not themselves. Nevertheless, SFBT is doing what works and what is best for clients.