Solution Focused Therapy - Features and Treatment Principles

By focusing on client goals and quickly initiating a search for imagined or experienced exceptions to client patterns, solution-focused therapists are able to...

What are the basic features of solution focused therapy?

Steve deShazer conceptualized therapy as a search for solutions rather than an exploration and analysis of problems. This solution-focused approach, can be readily adapted to the single-session framework.
By focusing on client goals and quickly initiating a search for imagined or experienced exceptions to client patterns, solution-focused therapists are able to quickly move treatment to an action phase, greatly abbreviating the change process.

  1. Solution focus: A movement from problem-talk to solution-talk and a focus on keeping therapy simple and brief. There are exceptions to every problem, and by talking about these exceptions, clients are able to conquer what seem to be gigantic problems. 
  2. Client is competent: Solution-focused therapists make the assumption that clients are competent and that the therapist’s role is to help clients recognize the competencies they already possess and apply them toward solutions. 
  3. Focus on what is working: Thus, attention is paid to what is working, and clients are encouraged to do more of this. Change is constant and inevitable, and a small change leads to other changes until the “solution momentum” outweighs the problem momentum. 
  4. Pathology is not the focus: Little attention is paid to pathology or to giving clients a diagnostic label. A therapist’s not-knowing stance creates an opportunity for the client to construct a solution.
  5. Focus on client’s agenda: SFT attends to the problem presented by the client. The closer the counselor can keep to the client’s agenda, the more likely the client will be motivated to change.

Discuss the treatment principles of solution focused therapy.

Working together in a collaborative relationship, both the therapist and client develop useful treatment goals. The underlying treatment principles, applicable to both, are:
  • Complex problems do not necessarily require complex solutions: It is possible that there is a simple solution for the most complex of problems being faced by the client.
  • Fix what is broken: People are not problems, they have problems. Don’t treat the clients as being sick or damaged. Look for what is healthy and functioning in their lives.
  • A small change can cause big changes: The therapist attempts to create an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance that allows individuals to tap their resources for making constructive changes. 
  • Repeat what works: Encourage the clients to continue what they can do well. This will build their confidence. This constructive behaviour may have started prior to the counseling. 
  • Stop what doesn’t work: Encourage the clients to do something different (almost anything) to break the failure cycle. 
  • Simple counseling: Don’t begin a search for hidden explanations and unconscious factors. Focus on the problem and finding its solution.
* * *

The solution-focused model emphasizes the role of clients establishing their own goals and preferences. This is done when a climate of mutual respect, dialogue, inquiry, and affi rmation are a part of the therapeutic process. We also discussed the various features and treatment principles of solution focused therapy.

Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy By Gerald Corey (free preview)
Comprehensive Handbook of Psychological Assessment: Intellectual and Neuropsychological Assessment edited by Michel Hersen (free preview)

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IGNOU Solved Assignments: Q6 - MPCE 013 PsychoTherapeutic Methods - MPCE 013/ASST/TMA/2015-16
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