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Solution-focused approaches are emphasizing the own strengths of people to find solutions to their problems. There are applications in psychotherapy, counseling and consulting. Solution focused work can be done with individuals and groups.
Solution-focused Brief Therapy is one of a family of approaches, known as systems therapies, that have been developed over the past 50 years or so, first in the USA, and eventually evolving around the world, including Europe. The title SFBT, and the specific steps involved in its practice, are attributed to Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg and their team at The Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, USA.
The approach does not focus on the past, but instead, focuses on the present and future. The therapist/counselor uses respectful curiosity to invite the client to envision their preferred future and then worker and client start attending to any moves towards it whether these are small increments or large changes. To support this, questions are asked about the client’s story, strengths and resources, and about exceptions to the problem.
Solution-focused workers believe that change is constant. By helping people identify the things that they wish to have changed in their life and also to attend to those things that are currently happening that they wish to continue to have happen, Solution-focused workers help their clients to construct a concrete vision of a preferred future for themselves. The worker then helps the client to identify times in their current life that are closer to this future, and examines what is different on these occasions. By bringing these small successes to their awareness, and helping them to repeat these successful things they do when the problem is not there or less severe, the workers helps the client move towards the preferred future they have identified.
Different techniques might be used in this process. This is displayed through the acronym MECSTAT Miracle questions, Exception questions, Coping questions, Scaling questions, Time-out, Accolades and Task. For a brief explanation click here.
A key task in Solution-focused work is to help clients identify and attend to their skills, abilities, and external resources (e.g. social networks). This process not only helps to construct a narrative of the client as a competent individual, but also aims to help the client identify new ways of bringing these resources to bear upon the problem. Resources can be identified by the client and the worker will achieve this by empowering the client to identify their own resources through use of scaling questions, problem-free talk, or during exception-seeking.
Resources can be Internal: the client's skills, strengths, qualities, beliefs that are useful to them and their capacities. Or, External: Supportive relationships such as, partners, family, friends, faith or religious groups and also support groups.
last edited by Jean Pierre Wilken March 2013