Thursday, 13 November 2014

Solution Focused Therapy (SFT)


                                                            Solution Focused Therapy (SFT)

Solution Focused Therapy (SFT) is one of the Constructivist Therapies ( Solution-Focused Therapy and Narrative Therapy) (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). It was created in 1986 by social workers Insoo Kin Berg and Steve de Shazer (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). This approach was strongly influenced by the 1990s post-modern movement, and based on social constructivism orientation (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Social constructivism emphasizes the power of language in frame reality according to the individual's perceptions and interactions with other people and society (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2014).

Solution Focused Therapy (SFT) is a brief therapy approach with an average of six sessions (O'Connell, 2005) and five phases: definition of issues, seeking for exceptions of the difficulties, choosing specific goals, therapist feedback and evaluation (Taylor, 2009).The main focus is not on diagnosis, past history, or even the cause of the problem. Instead, the solution-focused therapist develops a collaborative relationship with the clients in order to identify how they formulate their solutions, as well their ways of reaching their goals (Gingerich & Eisengart, 2004).

This approach holds the following assumptions: focusing on the solutions encourage clients to change the direction of their thoughts to a positive future, and , therefore, instils hope; the clients do not actually resist, but, on the contrary, they are healthy, competent, want to cooperate, and have the means to change (Corcoran, & Pillai, 2009); with only a small change being enough to lead to a bigger transformation (O'Connell, 2005).

The therapeutic relationship in this approach has a specific intention, where the therapist is more active, complimenting and kindly guiding the clients (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Clients are considered specialists in creating their goals and solutions, while therapists are the professionals in the process and structure of therapy (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2014).

The therapeutic process is organized in stages where clients delineate their difficulties, decide about specific feasible goals and develop solutions during the therapy (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). The goals must be positive, practical, precise, be the client's responsibility, and starts on the present day with a clear view on how it will be achieved (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).

The clinician work is to guide the clients to create solutions by utilizing the technique of asking special questions (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2014). From the beginning of the therapy, “exception-finding questions”(Taylor, 2009) help clients to recognize moments when they do not have the undesirable behavior (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2014). For those who cannot determine when they do not have the unwanted behavior, the therapist asks the “miracle question”(Taylor, 2009). This question aims to reveal how clients imagine their future (Quick, 2013). The third type of questions which are used several times during the therapy are called “scaling questions” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2014). They clarify each family member's viewpoint of the situation or problem (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2014). Solution Focused therapy also utilizes compliments as feedback intervention, intending to improve the client's emotional state, encourage client's cooperation, treatment continuity, and communicate the therapist's acceptance (Macdonald, 2004).

Solution Focused therapy has proved to be effective in research studies by demonstrating an expressive number of expected outcomes in many areas (Dylan & Pichot, 2003). This include children, adolescents (Dylan & Pichot, 2003), and adult families as well as at schools, and hospitals, in administrative agency settings, and in clinical settings to treat grief and loss, (Dylan & Pichot, 2003), substance abuse (Snyder & Plato, 2013), domestic violence and sexual abuse prevention (Macdonald, 2011). The approach can also be used by practitioners who are not counsellors or psychologists for the simplicity of the technique's application (O'Connell, 2005).

Some of the strengths of this brief therapeutic model include: the message that clients are capable; their non-resistant attitude toward the issue, and their empowerment as a consequence of being the authors of their own improvements; thus, removing the power competition between therapist and client (Corcoran, & Pillai, 2009). In addition, it is an affordable therapy due to the short length of treatment; which enables hope, confidence, rapid response and positive results to be achieved in a reduced period of time, as the therapeutic process of change starts from the first session (Corcoran, & Pillai, 2009).

On the other hand, some criticism of SFT come from different areas. Humanistic and psychoanalytic clinicians have criticized SFT for lacking a deep and detailed explanation of the mechanisms of change (Macdonald, 2011). This weakness, however, would not influence any particular area of this case study. Additionally, psychoanalysts and Gestalt therapist state that SFT does not address childhood traumas or unconscious repressions (Corey, 2009). The major criticism of SFT by some clinicians is that SFT completely excludes the emotional perspective (Miller & de Shazer, 2010). 

Mrs Glaucia Barbosa,
PACFA Reg. Provisional 25212 
MCouns, MQCA(Clinical)  
ABN: 19 476 932 954

Insoo Kim Berg - Youtube Video 1:
              Youtube Video 2: 
                                                              Youtube Video 3: 

Written by Insoo Kim Berg, 1934-2007; presented by Insoo Kim Berg, 1934-2007
(San Francisco, CA:, 1994), 1:45:08 mins  

Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy. Belmont, Calif: Brooks/Cole/Cengage.
Corcoran, J., & Pillai, V. (2009). A review of the research on solution-focused therapy. British Journal of Social Work, 39(2), 234-242. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcm098 
Dylan, Y. M., Pichot, T. (2003). Solution-focused brief therapy: Its effective use in agency settings. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Clinical Practice Press.
Goldenberg, I.,Goldenberg, H. (2013). Family therapy: An overview. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Macdonald, A. J. (2011). Solution-focused therapy theory, research and practice. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Miller, G., & de Shazer, S. (2010). Emotions in solution-focused therapy: A re-examination. Interaction, 2(1), 67-99.
O'Connell, B. (2005). Solution-focused therapy. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
Prochaska, J. O, Norcross, J. C. (2014). Systems of psychotherapy: A transtheoretical analysis. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.
Quick, E. K. (2012).Core competencies in the solution-focused and strategic therapies. Becoming a highly competent solution-focused and strategic therapist. USA: Routledge-Taylor and Francis.
Quick, E. K. (2013). Solution focused anxiety management: A treatment and training manual. San Diego: Academic Press.
Snyder, Marsha, PhD, PMHNP,BC, CADC, & Platt, Lois, MSN, PMHNP,BC, LCPC. (2013). Substance use and brain reward mechanisms in older adults. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 51(7), 15-20. doi:
Taylor, E. R. (2009). Sandtray and solution-focused therapy. International Journal of Play Therapy, 18(1), 56-68. doi:10.1037/a0014441

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