Solution Focused Brief Therapy

January 7, 2010

B. History & Background

Filed under: B. History & Background — solutiontherapy @ 11:59 am

§ History and Background

Let us watch “A brief history of the solution-focused approach” from YouTube.
In the late 1970’s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Steve de Shazer and his wife, Insoo Kim Berg, founded the Brief Family Therapy Center.  They pioneered and co-developed the solution-focused client-oriented brief therapy known as Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. SFBT evolved from brief family therapy. The Brief Family Therapy approach was rooted in the work of Milton H. Erickson, who emphasized brief strategic intervention and the application of submerged client competencies. (Burke and Schroerlucke, 2009). Steve de Shazer, along with Insoo Kim Berg and their colleagues modified existing brief therapy and kept only what worked effectively for the clients. The approach reflects the fundamental philosophy of SFBT to

“do what works and do more of it; if it does not work, do something different.”


“The most useful way to decide which door can be opened to get a solution is by getting a description of what the client will be doing differently and/or what sorts of things will be happening that are different when the problem is solved, thus creating the expectation of beneficial change.”

by Steve de Shazer (1940 – 2005).


Steve de Shazer was a pioneer in the field of family therapy and was often referred to as the “Grand Old Man of Family Therapy.” He was known for his minimalist philosophy and his reversing the traditional psychotherapy by shifting the focus of treatment from problems to solutions. A Fellow in the American Association of Marital and Family Therapy, Steve de Shazer was also a member of the European Brief Therapy Association Board, and served as President of the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Association Board of Directors. He has contributed and published many groundbreaking works of literature in solution-focused brief therapy. Steve de Shazer has presented workshops from 2002 until he passed away on September 11, 2005 in Vienna, Austria. His wife and long time collaborator, Insoo Kim Berg was by his side. (Trepper, Dolan, McCollum, Nelson, 2006).




“In the 1970’s and in early 1980’s, a startling discovery was made that almost every problem contains an element of solutions,” & “We value what the client brings to the situation and work with that.”

by Insoo Kim Berg (1934-2007).


Insoo Kim Berg was a native Korean who came to the US and initially planned to study pharmacy. She later switched her major to social work and started practice in the 1960’s. She stated in one of her interviews: “In the sixties, I was doing therapy and I was very dissatisfied with the traditional therapy approach. I realized: ‘This doesn’t work’.” Discontented with the use of traditional therapy approaches, Insoo Kim Berg along with her husband, Steve de Shazer, developed and made a paradigm shift from traditional problem-solving psychotherapy approaches to Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. By introducing such concepts as solution-orientation and brief therapy, she has influenced the fields of psychotherapy, family therapy, school counseling, business, and management consulting.  Insoo Kim Berg published ten highly acclaimed books. She passed away in Milwaukee 16 months after Steve de Shazer had died in September 2005. 

To learn more about Insoo Kim Berg, watch the video clip and read the following two interviews:




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