Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
Solution-focused brief therapy is based on solution-building rather than problem-solving. Although it acknowledges present problems and past causes, it predominantly explores an individual’s current resources and future hopes – helping them to look forward and use their own strengths to achieve their goals.
As its name suggests, solution-focused brief therapy is considered a time-limited approach, however the technique is often incorporated into other long-term therapy types and effects can be long-lasting.
How does solution-focused brief therapy work?
Rather than dwelling on an individual’s weaknesses and limitations, solution-focused therapy concentrates solely on an individual’s strengths and possibilities to help them move forward. It works by helping them overcome problems without tackling them directly – using the solution-building concept to foster change and help individuals to develop a set of clear, concise and realistic goals. It is the role of a solution-focused therapist to help elicit and implement these solutions via a series of discussions.
The Miracle Question
A key element within this questioning is the ‘miracle question’ – a question that encourages people to stop thinking about why they cannot achieve something and instead picture how their lives could be if a miracle occurred. This helps them to view life very differently and takes the focus off the cause of their problems. Instead emphasis is placed on times when their problems are non-existent.
Ultimately, the miracle question enables the individual to picture a solution.
Exception questions allow people to identify with times when things may have been different for them – periods in their lives that are counter to the problem they are currently facing. By exploring how these exceptions happened, and highlighting the strengths and resources used by the individual to achieve them, a therapist can empower them to find a solution.
Examples of exception questions a therapist may ask include:
“Tell me about times when you felt happiest”.
“What was it about that day that made it a better day?”
“Can you think of times when the problem was not present in your life?”
During this process the therapist will likely offer plenty of praise to encourage individuals to project their exceptions into the future and feel more confident about using their strengths and resources to achieve their new vision.
Who can benefit?
Solution-focused therapy has been found successful in helping a vast array of people, including individuals, couples, families and children. It is thought to work very effectively for those who are keen to embrace change and have a goal-orientated mind-set, as these individuals are often more responsive to therapy techniques.