Solution Focused Therapy

“It seeks to help clients to solve problems for themselves, but not by themselves. It requires a more positive and egalitarian stance from the helper than the traditional ‘expert’ position… (practitioners) see the client as a problem solver rather than some-one who is ‘damaged’, ‘ill’, inadequate’ or ‘dysfunctional’.”

Bill O’Connell (2003)

Solution Focused Practice (sometimes known as Solution Focused Brief Therapy) is an approach to talking which focuses on the solution for the client, rather than on the problem they have come about. The practitioner usually starts by asking the client what they are hoping for from their therapy/ coaching.

Often, the practitioner will ask the client to picture in some detail what life would be like if these hopes were realised, (the “preferred future”).

Practitioner and client will explore together times when occasionally the preferred future is already happening, even if just a little bit, and then highlight the client’s skills and strengths which have enabled this to happen.

Solution Focused (SF) has grown out of the work of Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg and their colleagues at the Brief Family Therapy Centre in Milwaukee in the 1980s and 90s. They in turn had been influenced by others like John Weakland and Milton Erickson. More recent contributors to SF in its current form are O’Hanlon; McKergow; Korman; and Evans, Iveson and Ratner. SF is now being used more and more widely in health, education, counselling, social work and business coaching.