Losing that sinking feeling

Solution Focused Therapy originated
from the theories of psychotherapists
working at the Brief Family Therapy
Center in Milwaukee. These included
Steve de Chazer, Insoo Kim Berg,
Yvonne Dolan and Bill O'Hanlan.
Solution Focused Therapy is a here-and-now
type of psychotherapy that places
emphasis on the present and future. Rather
than analysing problems therapists will
attempt to engage the client in
conversation about potential solutions,
operating from the viewpoint that change is
not only possible but inevitable. It is a
distinctly positive approach to
Change is constant and inevitable
Clients are the experts and define goals
Future orientation – history is not essential
Emphasis is on what is possible and
changeable - do something differently
Short term
For use when time is limited
 Empathy
 Unconditional
 Open
 Use
Positive Regard
of silence
 Warmth
 Genuineness
 Three
 Strengths
 Techniques
 Limitations
 Incorporating
in your work
1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
2. Once you know what works, do
more of it
3. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it again:
do something different
From problem to person
› Engaging with the client not just the problem
From what’s wrong, to what’s right
› Finding out what the client is already doing which
Solution talk, not problem talk
Work with what you have, not what is missing
Work with here and now, not the past
Strength-based vs problem-based
Cheer on success
SFBT views client as…
Capable of change
Already doing some things right
 Having
resources and strengths to
resolve complaints
Motivated for change
Help client realise success, even if small
Instill hope
Help client to “be normal”
Help client MANAGE change
The therapist’s job is to identify and
amplify change
› It is usually unnecessary to know much about
the complaint in order to resolve it
› Focus on what is possible and changeable,
rather than what is impossible and intractable
Goal setting questions
Miracle Questions
Scaling Questions
Exception Questions
Coping Questions
 What
are your goals?
 How
will you continue to accomplish
 How
will you know when you got what you
wanted from therapy?
 What
 Who
will be different?
 What
will notice?
will they notice?
Suppose that one night, while you are
asleep, there is a miracle and the
problem that brought you here is
solved. However, because you are
asleep you don't know that the miracle
has already happened. When you wake
up in the morning, what will be different
that will tell you that the miracle has
taken place? What else?
What difference would you (and others)
 What are the first things you notice?
 Has any of this ever happened before?
 Would it help to recreate any of these
 What would need to happen to do this?
Can be used in almost any therapy situation
(health, family, couples, or individual)
 Scale of 1 – 10
› 1 is the worst it’s ever been
› 10 is after the miracle has happened
Where are you now?
 Where do you need to be?
 How will you feel if you move up one point?
 How can you keep yourself at that point?
Exceptions = Differences that make a
Tell me about the times when (the
complaint) does not occur, or occurs less
than at other times
Eg, What times are thinking about other things
than cancer… and what are those things?
Encourage the client to describe what they
did differently when they were not
depressed or anxious, etc
Amplifying the exception
› How do you explain to yourself why these times are
How do you achieve that?
What do you do differently then?
Who else is involved that notices the difference?
What do they say or do? What else?
What would you have to do or see for this to happen
more often? What else?
What do you do with your life (eg when not in
How have you got through things in the past?
(NB not what have you got through in the
What’s a good day look like in here?
What would you like of today’s appointment?
Did you have any things you wanted to bring
up/on your agenda?
What are your hopes for our work
together….how will you know it’s been worth
your while?
Who would be the least surprised if you
got through this?
 How would your spouse/family/best
friend/ dog describe your qualities?
 What do you tell yourself that keeps you
 How do you cope at all?
 Suppose you’re looking back after you
die and you’re pleased with how you’ve
lived, what will you be pleased about
Make sure that you define the problem and
refer to other experts if necessary
If you feel out of your depth, say so
Client should want to work with you
It does not necessarily replace counselling/
As with all therapies, one size does not fit all
Use SFBT approaches when time is limited
to move people on more quickly
 Use when the client is resistant to
 Try some of the techniques and monitor
the response
 Keep practising!
Even the most experienced staff feel
stressed, overwhelmed and upset at
Ensure you get regular supervision, even
if you think things are ok
Sometimes this sneaks up on us without
our noticing

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