One of the changes counseling has experienced in recent years is that most clients do not have the time or money to pursue innumerable counseling sessions. Often clients might commit to three or perhaps four before they are ready for life to resume some sense of normalcy. Traditional counseling models often do not fit this time restraint well because the process requires time to move the client from insight to action.
Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) offers an effective alternative. SFBT focuses on the change process rather than on problem resolution. The assumption is that problems are related to deeper dysfunctional behaviors and beliefs. While SFBT does not devote time to exploring and challenging these beliefs, the therapist will help the client identify these behaviors and beliefs. SFBT differs in a number of ways from traditional therapy. SFBT…
Seeks to reinforce solutions to making life better in the future rather than simply resolving problems Focuses on the future rather than dwelling on the past Encourages the client to make a habit of using current useful behavior Encourages clients to find helpful patterns of behaviors Assumes the client already knows the helpful behavior that could improve life Encourages “baby steps” of change Solutions are not problem-based but are patterns of a healthy life in general
SFBT encourages the client to form a vision of where he or she wants to be in the future. The vision is an essential element of SFBT because it provides hope and enables the construction of a plan for reaching that point. The client with the assistance of the therapist formulates goals and strategies for achieving the vision. The therapist assists in identifying client strengths, weaknesses, and resources that could be helpful.
The first technique employed in SFBT is the necessity of a positive therapeutic relationship. The therapist is not the expert but a coach. The client is in the driver’s seat in therapy. The therapist is merely a passenger who functions like a GPS indicating directions but the client decides where the turns will occur.
A second essential technique is reflective listening. The therapist will repeat what the client says and links statements together in hopes of creating insight for the client.
A third essential technique is conversation in therapy. The conversation focuses on the client’s concerns. The conversation will ideally assist the client in constructing a vision for the future. Part of the constructing the vision will be the need to assist the client in clarifying and perhaps redefining future goals.
A fourth essential technique in SFBT is goal-setting. The therapeutic conversation should result in goal setting that augments the client’s vision for the future. Therapy will then focus on exceptions to the goals and developing strategies with the client for increasing compliance in the future.