Solution Focused Strategies

Many traditional methods of psychotherapy attempt to solve people's problems by examining the details, related emotions, and possible causes of their problems. Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) differs from these traditional methods of psychotherapy in that it shifts directly away from a focus on problem solving to a focus on solution building.

SFBT draws upon clients' strengths and resiliencies by focusing on successes, exceptions to their problems, and encouragement to do more of what is already working. SFBT counsellors are optimistic in their view of clients and see them as being healthy, competent, and as having their own resources to draw on. Creating a collaborative therapeutic relationship based on trust, acceptance, and empathy is a basic premise in SFBT. The therapist's role is viewed as expanding rather than limiting the clients options; tapping the client on the shoulder to point out an alternate direction.

Treatment is conceptualized in SFBT by creating well-defined goals through the use of questions that are not directive or interpretative. Questions are not used simply as a way to gather information. They are used to create awareness in the client and to create possibilities for the future. The questions used by SFBT therapists are present and future focused, and do not emphasize the past.

The SFBT approach took more than 25 years of trial and error to evolve into the model that it is today. SFBT is designed to be a short-term therapeutic model and is used in many settings such as clinical outpatient settings, schools, prisons, courts, hospitals, pain clinics, social service programs, shelters, daycare settings, residential treatment homes, and businesses. Clients within these settings have benefited from the adaption of the SFBT model to address issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, marital and family problems, mental illness, crisis and trauma situations, children's issues, and management problems.

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