Solution Focused Brief Therapy

Rather than focusing exclusively on a client’s problems, Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) aims at finding solutions to them. Instead of looking at the past, clients are taught to envision a healthier and future. The client then works with the therapist to find the resources needed to actualize that vision.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy

Solution Focused Brief Therapy is founded on the following principles:

  • Change is both constant and certain.
  • Emphasis on what is changeable and possible.
  • Clients must want to change.
  • Clients are the experts and outline their own goals.
  • Clients have the resources and their own strengths to solve and overcome their problems
  • Therapy is short-term.
  • Focus on the future – history is not essential.

In some traditional therapies, clients are asked to revisit their past looking for things which may have later negatively impacted their lives. These processes can be effective but they also tend to be time consuming. SFBT instead encourages clients to focus on the here and now. The therapist’s aim is to show the client that they already possess skills which will help them cope with current adversities.

Jenev Caddell, PsyD writes “If you are looking to dissect your childhood or come upon a great deal of insight about your life’s trajectory, SFBT may not be the kind of therapy you are looking for. If, however, you want laser focused help to move into a new area of your life, without getting lost in the details, SFBT may be a good fit for you.”

This approach is premised on the idea that clients may already have the resources within themselves to better handle their problems. These resources can be developed into practical steps that can be taken immediately to bring practical results.

“There is nothing like experiencing small successes to help a person become more hopeful about themselves,” observes Insoo Kim Berg, one of the pioneers of SFBT. “When they are more hopeful, they become more interested in creating a better life for themselves. They become more hopeful about their future and want to achieve more.”

To help the client envision a healthier future the therapist may use a tool known as “The Miracle Question.” The client to is asked to picture what his life would look life if his problems miraculously disappeared. The therapist and client then identify steps that can be taken immediately to move toward that vision. The question is designed to shift the client’s focus from what’s going poorly in his life to how things could be better.

Other SFBT techniques include

  • Compliments: The therapist consistently validates the client and the steps he’s taking to move toward his goals. This helps the client stay motivated and appreciate the progress he is making.
  • Inviting the clients to do more of what is working: the therapist observes which solutions are proving to be most successful and encourages the client to stay focused on them.
  • Coping questions: These are an important tool that can be used if clients become overwhelmed by their emotions as the treatment process unfolds. Clients are asked questions which focus on those things they are successfully coping with even as they struggle with their present difficulties.
  • Exception questions: the therapist asks clients to look for exceptions or instances when a problem could have occurred, but didn’t when previous solutions were available.
  • Scaling questions: clients are asked to assess  their solutions, track their progress, and evaluate how others might rate them, normally on a scale of 1 to 10, and then discuss with the therapist what that particular number means to them.

Research has shown SFBT may be a helpful intervention for youth who are experiencing behavioral concerns or academic/school-related concerns. It has also proven effective as an approach to family therapy and couples counseling. The method is often used in conjunction with other approaches.

Treatment at Sovereign Health of Florida

SFBT is an evidence-based therapy utilized by clinicians at Sovereign Health of Florida to help clients identify what they can do to make their lives better, rather than focusing on how they are limited by their problems or diagnosis. At Sovereign Health of Florida, clients are provided individualized programs and evidence-based therapies, including SFBT therapy, to help them in their treatment and recovery.

For more information about SFBT or to learn more about our programs for substance abuse, mental health and co-occurring disorders, please call our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our admissions team.

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