Most types of Psychological Therapy involve exploring feelings, being validated, finding explanations, exploring wishes and dreams, setting goals, and gaining clarity. Every Psychologist or Therapist has unique ways of working with clients, based on their personality, training, and views of how people change.
In Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), a Psychologist or Therapist, is likely to do the following:
- Instead of going over past events and focusing on problems, the clinician helps you envision your future without today’s problems.
- During the course of therapy (often as few as 3 to 6 sessions), the clinician helps you discover solutions.
- The clinician encourages you to identify and do more of what is already working.
- The clinician guides you to identify what doesn’t work and to focus on doing less of it. Brilliant, right?
- The emphasis is on the future, not the past.
- Those who use SFBT as a treatment approach believe that the client is the best expert about what it takes to change their life.
- The clinician’s role is to help you identify solutions that will remove the barriers to having the life you want.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is a process that helps people change by constructing solutions rather than dwelling on problems. This type of therapy tends to be short-term in comparison to traditional Psychological Therapy approaches to conduct therapy. Steve de Shazer, MS., and Insoo Kim Berg, MS., of the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee are the originators of this form of therapy.
The clinician helps the client identify elements of the desired solution, which are usually already present in the client’s life. The client learns to build on these elements, which form the basis for ongoing change. Rather than searching for the causes of the problem, the focus is on defining the changes and making them a reality.
The two key therapeutic issues are: [1 ] how the client wants their life to be different, and [2 ] what it will take to make it happen.
Creating a detailed picture of what it will be like when life is better creates a feeling of hope, and this makes the solution seem possible. The clinician helps the client focus on the future and how it will be better when things change. It is important to develop a set of specific, detailed goals. These goals drive the therapy process and keep it focused and efficient.
Why SFBT Is Usually Short-Term
The clinician does not set out to artificially limit the number of sessions. A good brief therapist will not focus on limiting sessions or time, but rather on helping clients set goals and develop strategies to reach those goals.
Focusing on the client’s goals and the concrete steps needed to achieve them usually takes less time than traditional therapy, in which the client typically spends many sessions talking about the past and explores reasons and feelings. SFBT clinicians aim to provide clients with the most effective treatment in the most efficient way possible so that clients can achieve their goals and get on with their lives. As a result of this focus, the therapy process often requires as few as six sessions.
In traditional Psychological Therapy approaches, Individual Therapy may last months, and in some cases, years. Recent therapy outcome research on Psychological Therapy indicates 75% of therapy clients show marked improvement of symptoms after their 26th session. 50% improve after their 8th session. Beyond this, there has not been any real significance found in the research on how one will benefit. Therein is the dilemma. Why would a person continue treatment if there is no marked improvement to be gained past session 26? For maintenance? Many continue in Individual Therapy if symptoms are due to a chronic disorder and maintenance is required so gains made as a result of treatment, do not worsen back to their original state. Another reason maybe if the person experiences a new presenting problem.
If you are interested in learning more about Benefits of Psychological Therapy see Chapter 2, p.51.
Types of Problems SFBT Addresses
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is an effective way of helping people solve many kinds of problems, including Depression, Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, Relationship Problems, and many other kinds of issues and presenting problems. Since it focuses on the process of change rather than on dissecting the problem, more serious issues do not necessarily require different treatment. The clinician’s job is to help clients transform troubling issues into specific goals and an action plan for achieving them.
In The Miracle Method, authors Scott D. Miller and Insoo Kim Berg describe how to create solutions with these steps:
- State your desire for something in your life to be different.
- Envision that a miracle happens and your life is different.
- Make sure the miracle is important to you.
- Keep the miracle small.
- Define the change with language that is positive, specific, concrete, and behavioral.
- State how you will start your journey rather than how you will end it.
- Be clear about who, where, and when, but not why.
Signs To Consider
There are several ways to know when you would be doing yourself a favor by finding a clinician to work with.
- You’ve tried several things on your own, but you still have the problem.
- You want to find a solution sooner rather than later.
- You have thoughts of harming yourself or others.
- You have symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, or another disorder that significantly interferes with your daily functioning and quality of your life. For example, you have lost time from work, your relationships have been harmed, or your health is suffering. These are signs you may benefit from seeking treatment from a trained professional.
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