Solution Focused Therapy
By encouraging clients to focus on achievements and goals, solution-focused therapy aims to help establish hope and resolutions to problems — with less attention paid to why the problems arose in the first place. The focus is on what is possible if positive changes are made.
Exploring a possible future
Can you imagine life free of emotional issues, without the concerns and problems that made you think of therapy as a way of tackling them?
What would show you your life was different?
What would you be doing instead of your current everyday activities?
What would you be thinking about, or planning for, if you weren’t preoccupied with the difficulties you’re experiencing now?
What if something miraculous happened to change your life completely? What little clues would let you know the miracle had happened?
These are possible questions put to clients by solution-focused therapists. The therapist and the client work together, with the therapist encouraging the client to use his or her imagination to really think about achievements and goals — even if the client feels they are beyond reach, or no more than a fantasy, in the initial stages of therapy at least.
The number of sessions is usually quite short — a limited number of meetings, with progress discussed, explored and assessed as soon as the next session begins.
Emphasis on the future — not the past
The focus is on what is happening now, and what could happen if things changed, in the future. Causes of problems, or events leading up to a worsening of the problems, play a minor role, if at all, in favour of imagining a solution, but always under the client’s control.
The therapist helps the client identify even the smallest changes and improvements, and aims to raise awareness of them. This builds confidence and self-esteem, often quite quickly, according to the research into this form of therapy.
Solution-focused therapy is sometimes used alongside other techniques, or as a preliminary to other therapies. It’s adaptable to a wide range of emotional and psychological concerns, and part of its success lies in the fact it can be effective with clients of all ages, including children and adolescents, and including clients who have little motivation….or who have already tried other forms of therapy and given up.
Why does it work?
There may be a neurobiological effect, on the way the brain responds to this sort of questioning and imagining. Some theorists posit that the language and dialogue of the sessions stimulate a creative, self-healing process — and other ideas are that the therapist and the client relationship is key, and that it’s likely to be ‘better’ because they can’t disagree on causes of problems (because they are not discussed).