Solution Focused Brief Therapy

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Brief therapies have become more common in today’s society particularly in areas of social work and counselling. An increased demand for therapy particularly that which is short-term, effective and affordable has been the key driver in the development brief therapeutic approaches (Feltham & Dryden, 2006). Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is a post-modern approach to counselling developed in the 1980’s by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg at their Brief Family Therapy Centre in Milwaukee (Ratner, George, & Iveson, 2012). As its name suggests SFBT, is a short-term therapy that is devoted to joining with a client in finding solutions or exceptions to current problems as opposed to focusing on the cause of the problem (Prochaska & Norcross,…show more content…
Possibly the most influential concept taken from Wittgensteinian philosophy and incorporated in the solution-focused approach is language games. Language games describes the way that communication both verbal and non-verbal is understood and organised in different people with much emphasis given to their social context (Miller, & de Shazer, 2000). Put simply words hold various meanings for different people in different contexts. Relating this back to SFBT there is a distinction made between “problem talk” and “solution talk”. Problem-focused talk is perceived as negative, past focused and suggests problem permanence whereas solution-focused talk is positive, future orientated and views problems as only temporary (Ratner, George, & Iveson, 2012). The idea that there is not necessarily a relationship between the cause of a problem and its solution is so engrained in SFBT that therapists believe information gathering around the problem is not needed for change (Corey, 2009; Prochaska & Norcross,…show more content…
A popular question solution-focused therapist’s use that is aimed at exploring new possibilities is the miracle question. The miracle question was an accidental experiment Insoo Kim Berg used in her practice by telling a client only a miracle could help (de Shazer, & Dolan, 2012). Although accidental Berg’s idea was not radical as it shared similarities with Milton Erikson’s crystal ball technique in which he encouraged hypnotised patients to imagine themselves conquering their problem (Ratner, George, & Iveson, 2012). This idea was then adapted and posed as a question to clients as a way for them to imagine a future without their problem with the intention of motivation building, the exploration of goals and the brainstorming or amplifying solutions (O 'Connell, 2005; Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). An example of what the miracle question may sound like from de Shazer (1988) is “What will be different that will tell you that a miracle has happened and the problem which brought you here is solved?” (p. 5.). Counsellors of course are encouraged alter this question using the clients own language and to make it more applicable to the problem. No matter how this question is presented it will understandably be a confronting and confusing question for clients and therefore must be timed appropriately and worded in a respectful manner
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