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Solution focused therapy


Solution focused therapy TOPICS SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU

            This is a type of talking therapy that is usually based on a philosophy of social constructionist. This particular therapy usually has its focus on what the clients want to achieve via the therapy rather than the problem that made them look for help in the first place. It does not focus on the past but it focuses on the present day and the future (Adelaide, 2000). And since its origins in the 1980s, solution focused therapy has proved to be effective in solving wide range problems including relationships, child abuse, homelessness, family breakdown and other intractable psychiatric problems among others. Most therapists rely on this particular kind of therapy because it works for most of problems as it has been listed above. Because of the few brief sessions involved in this therapy, it is the most preferred.

                                               The solution focused theory process

            Since the solution focused therapy process has developed, the problem to be solved normally plays a very small role in the process of interviewing. This is usually to that extent that it might not be easily noticed. This is usually so because the focus is normally on the development of a solution or rather discovering of the solution to the problem. Before, much emphasis was being put on exploration of the exceptions of the problem but now this has been replaced by the client’s efforts in achieving the desired solution to the problem. The issue of motivation was dealt with by motivational interviews but in most current sessions it is always assumed that the clients are naturally motivated. The motivational interviews that were initially in use mostly depended on specific attitude of the client towards his or her problems. This is to mean that if a certain client believes that there is no solution existing to his problems then this will be the first signs that will give the therapist an impression that his client does not have a positive attitude towards finding solutions.


            This is one of the commonly used frameworks in the solution focused interview. Usually the scales range from 0 to 10 where 10 is equivalent to goal achievement and 0 is the worst scenario that can ever occur in such an interview. Here the client presenting the problem is asked to state is his or her position and that point at which he or she will be sufficiently satisfied. Within this given framework it is very possible for he interviewer to identify the ultimate objectives of the clients, what the client is currently doing in order to achieve the objectives and lastly what the following step will be in solving the problems (Andrew, 2000).

            Separate scales might be used in exploring the different aspects displayed in a particular problem. In addition, if a particular client is presenting multiple problems or rather is being faced  with multiple problems, the different problems may be approached using their own different scales. And where several scales are used in solution finding, the overlapping areas soon become very apparent and this normally serves to help the client realise that moving in a single area might lead to other areas improving.

                                                           Coping and compliments

            Having a good look at the strengths of the clients coupled with his resources is said to be the most vital thing in such sessions of the therapy. Different clients have their own different lives and some of them might not see any meaning left to their lives (Peterson, 2007). The way forward is being curious about how the client manages to hang on and how he or she copes with the situation despite the diversity. The therapist here should be able to recognise the problem of the client and to a specific extent and he should also make compliments regarding to the courage of  the client and his perseverance. These are the main interventions that a therapists might use in several cases that he might come across (Murphy, 2000).

                                                           Subsequent sessions

            Solution focused therapy on average involves around five sessions and each of the sessions should take around 40 minutes long. Rarely does solution focused therapy extend beyond eight sessions but in most cases one session is normally sufficient for the therapy. If after the third session no particular improvement is noticed then the therapy might not work for that particular client. This is so because the first three sessions usually provide a lot of information that might help the therapist to see the client through the problem but if it gets to this point and no improvement is noticed then its unlikely to work. If it is possible, the time period between sessions can be increased with the progress of the therapy and therefore a therapy going through four sessions might take as long as five months depending on the client’s progress.

            The major task of the therapist is to ensure that the client is achieving life in a more satisfied way. This is done by making follow up sessions on the client and the sessions might begin by asking the client such questions as “what is better?” and “why do you need this therapy now?” (Anderson, 2002). An approach to psychotherapy that is based on building of solutions involves noting what was different, who noticed the difference, what resources and the strengths does the client have, how the difference came about and what might be the next significant sign of improvement on the client. This particular approach normally explores all the resources of the client together with the hope of the future than presentation of problems and their causes. This approach typically takes place in at most five sessions and at least three sessions.

            There have been exceptions no matter how chronic the problem might be and within these exceptions there lies a typical seed of a solution from the client himself. If the situation of the client gets worse, the therapists should be interested in knowing how the client managed to cope and hang on and what the client did or was doing to stop the situation from further deterioration. At this point it then turns out that there are some slight improvements but the client might have not noticed since much of his concentration was on the problem  but not on his own progress (Jared, 2005). Many clients fail to notice their improvement because of their lack in concentration on their progress. Some might even tell the therapists after some time that they are worsening but after a close scrutiny by the therapist it will be noticed that this particular client has improved. Therefore follow up sessions are very vital in monitoring the progress of the client and it is good for the client also in that he or she will be informed on his or her own progress and will be advised accordingly on how to handle themselves.


            The solution focused therapy has got its own difficulties. One of them is when the therapist tries to find out more about what the client has ever achieved or rather his achievements and if the said client has got any hope for the future. It is advisable for the therapist to make use of the guiding framework for it is usually very simple. And whichever the direction that the session will assume, it has to end with making of compliments (Brian, 2006). Care should be taken by the therapists while carrying out the sessions because much of the attention has to be on the overall  goal. Each session however should come to an end with some compliments that will be relevant to achieved goal.

                                                           Single-session therapies

            Single session therapies are very common in solution focused therapy and therefore they are not supposed to find any therapist by surprise. There are several explanations as probably why this is so;  many clients fail to visualise the way to finding solutions to whatever the problems they may be having (Connell, 2005). The description that is well detailed on the preferred future is normally characterised by the first session becoming a sufficient pathway for the clients to move forward. Here it is then advised that the therapist should be willing to give as many follow up sessions as possible until the client shows signs of complete improvement. Another possible reason is that most of the clients might be having ready solutions to their problems without their consent and when they are informed of this they actually see the better side of life again. And the last reason might that during the follow up sessions made by the therapist to the various clients, many clients come to realise their lives are easily managed (Hillary, 2001).

            Case: Brenda and Steve

            Brenda and Steve who have been married for 38 years have their own issues concerning their marriage. Brenda thinks that Steve is harsh on her and he does not address her in the proper way whereas Steve thinks that Brenda is not so organised. It is obvious that the couple are now seeking help because the situation is slowing getting out of hand and is something can be solved externally. Solution focused therapy will be used because basically it has its main focus on finding solutions and this is what this couple is looking for. The main goals of this session will be to finding a lasting solution to the couple’s problems and humbly reunite them.

 Therapist: Brenda and John, what hopes do you have for this session?

Brenda: To be able to know how to organise myself in the house.

Steve: I do not know.

Therapist: Steve what is your idea on this?

Steve: I think this session will be very helpful.

Therapist: In what way exactly?

Brenda: It will give me guidelines on better organisation.

Steve: I do not know.

Therapist: What do you have in mind?

Steve: To change the way i address my wife.

Therapists: So if this particular session will assist you to address Brenda the way she wants and assist Brenda to be more organised in the house it will have been worth your time here?

Brenda: Yes.

Steve: Sure.

Therapist: I want to ask the two of you unusual questions?

Brenda: Okay.

Steve: Okay.

Therapist: Let us try to imagine that today night while you are sleeping some kind of a miracle happens and Steve’s harshness disappears and Brenda becomes organised. And because both of you will be asleep you will rarely notice the change. What will be there in the morning to make you notice that both of your problems have been resolved?

Steve: Brenda will be more organised and in a short while i will be informed of what she has planned to do during the day something that she rarely does.

Brenda: Steve will be more flexible and will be more willing to assist in some impromptu tasks, something that he can never do.

             As it is seen both Steve and Brenda are very much willing to solve there problem and it is evident from the words the two speak. This is there actual strength. The idea of using a miracle in achieving the goals of the session obviously proves to be a useful way of bypassing most of the psychological barriers to thinking about a changed future. The session continues by questioning both Brenda and Steve on what would be so different on their days if the problem was solved. And as their description progress Steve and Brenda become more interested in their own account. And each time in future sessions where barriers emerge the therapist mentions the miracle and tries to inquire how the two would deal with them. At this point it is worth noting that both vulnerable since their children are all grown, they have no choice other than finding a lasting solution.

Therapist:  So what would make you notice that you Brenda is not disorganised any more and Steve is now not harsh?

Steve: More impromptu responsibilities will reduce.

Brenda: He will be having more courtesy when addressing me and with a good tone.

At this point the therapist ends the session by complimenting both Brenda and Steve on being open, bold and honest during the session. The therapist also compliments the two on coming together and agreeing to find the solution to the problem. This goal has been achieved through a good interaction between the couple and there was no usage of harsh and bad words. Such interactions make solution finding process and easy one to the therapist.


            Solution focused therapy therefore is that therapy that can mostly be used in solving problems that require an almost immediate solution. And since it involves a lot of talking, the power to generate solutions is derived from the words the clients speak. It is the most efficient type of therapy that is in common use in solving family disputes. As much as it is the best method so far, it lacks a standard method of measuring its efficiency. In most cases, the therapists do find out that the method worked based on the reports and information given through their clients. Also since the method focuses its concentration on the future life of the client, it somehow fails to give a precise understanding of the given problem.


Adelaide, S. (2000). Brief Therapy solutions. The family Guide, 20, pp. 124-145.

Andrew, H. (2000). Understanding of Solution Focused Therapy. Therapy in the Families, 34, p. 235.

Anderson, C. (2002). The Brief Therapy. Psychological adjustments & Solution Focused Therapy, 34, p. 154.

Brian, H. (2006). The SFBT Journal. The Solution process, 83, pp 321-403.

Connell, M. (2005).   Contemporary Family Therapy. The Therapeutic Process, 16, p.47.

Hillary, G. (2001). Behavioural Change & Psychotherapy. The Brief Therapy Process, 43, p. 432.

John, G. (2007). The Family Therapy & Its Network. The Brief therapy, 7, p. 57.

Jared, H. (2005). Solution Focused Therapy. The Family Process, 29, p. 267.

Murphy,g A. (2000). Art of Solution Focused Therapy. A Collaborative approach, 7, p. 67

Peterson, W. (2007). Recreation of Partnership. Single Session Therapy, 8, p. 34.

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