Solution focused brief therapy (SFBT), often referred to as simply ‘solution focused therapy’ or ‘brief therapy’, is a type of talking therapy that was developed in the 1980s by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg, of MiIwaukee, USA and is now used in many countries throughout the world. It focuses on what clients want to achieve through therapy, rather than on the problem(s) that made them seek help. The approach does not focus on the past, but instead, focuses on the present and future. The therapist/counsellor uses respectful curiosity to invite the client to visualise their preferred future. Then client and therapist start attending to any moves towards it – whether these are small increments or large changes. To support this, questions are asked about the client’s story, strengths and resources, and about exceptions to the problem.
Solution focused therapists believe that change is constant. By helping people identify the things that they wish to have changed in their life and also to attend to those things that are already happening that they wish to continue to have happen, Solutions focused therapists help their clients to construct a concrete vision of a preferred future for themselves. The SFBT therapist helps the client to identify times in their current life that are closer to this future and examines what is different on these occasions. By bringing these small successes to their awareness, and helping them to repeat these successful things they do when the problem is not there (or less severe), the therapists helps the client move towards the preferred future they have identified.
Solution focused work can be seen as a way of working that focuses exclusively or predominantly at two things. 1) Supporting people to explore their preferred futures. 2) Exploring when, where, with whom and how pieces of that preferred future are already happening. The approach is practical and aims to encourage people to get in touch with their own resources to help create their preferred future.
If you are a client from an organisational context do have a look at the section on ‘SF for change agents and coaches’.