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What Is… Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT)

OVERVIEW

It is quite a common belief that if you have a problem, you need to deal with it by talking. Although necessary and helpful, talking may only go so far. It is necessary to try to get at what underlies your problem. This is where solution-focused therapy comes in.

OBJECTIVE

Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) is an evidence-based approach to therapy that prioritizes helping clients identify and attend to the things in their life that truly matter. SFT is based on the idea that human beings are goal-seeking creatures who are capable of utilizing our minds to help us attain our desired outcomes. Therapists help clients move directly to what they want out of therapy so they can start achieving their goals. SFT is successful amongst clients with depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse problems. This therapeutic approach is especially compatible with ethnically/ racially/ culturally diverse populations.


~ helps clients become aware of their goals and how to do things that’ll achieve them


PROCESS

Solution-focused therapies emphasize the positive sides of people and their capacity to change. Unlike traditional forms of therapy that primarily attend to problematic behavioral patterns, as its name states, SFT concentrates on finding solutions through positive behavioral patterns labeled as ‘exceptions’. With the appropriate coaching, this method of therapy helps you figure out what you need to do to improve your life.


By focusing on your strengths rather than weaknesses, therapists are also able to provide support and empowerment to clients in ways that typically help individuals move towards their life goals quicker than would be possible with traditional therapy.


SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

In solution-focused therapy, the therapist is there to facilitate the client’s process of change. They help clients find solutions through a variety of techniques like visualization, reframing problematic states and circumstances into more positive ones, and thought-stopping (use of visual imagery to push away from negative self-talk). Therapists encourage clients to take active roles in defining the types of changes they wish to make and how they might know when their goal is accomplished.


Some questions therapists might ask:

What do you want?”

What would it look like if things were different?”

“What are some things that have worked for you in the past?”


Through these questions, therapists can guide clients into framing specific, measurable, realistic, and time-limited goals.

SFT aims to have patients solve their issues on their own so they can feel good about themselves when therapy is over. This form of therapy is less concerned with the client’s past or why the client has problems but rather how they can solve them and move on.


~ prompt clients to find their own solutions by asking questions that encourage them to resolve their issues


SOME HISTORY

Solution-focused therapy was created in the late 1970s by psychologist Milton Erickson and was popularized by Milwaukee psychotherapists, Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. This form of therapy operates with the assumption that our problems are not permanent but rather temporary and changeable.


-—-- “That’s a way to see it and there is also another way to see it.” - Insoo Kim Berg —----


—- “Problem talk creates problems, Solution talk creates solutions.” - Steve de Shazer —-


SFT works by preventing clients from dwelling on negative aspects of their situations. For example, if a client says that they want a new job but are having trouble finding one, the therapist may ask how they are going about looking for work and what steps they’ve taken so far.


SUMMING IT UP

Overall, solution-focused therapies are short-term, goal-oriented forms of psychotherapy that are useful in reducing symptoms of distress and promoting positive changes. It is a collaborative approach between the therapist and client to address the present and future that encourages clients to identify underlying issues with the resources accessible to them. Solution-focused therapies also aid in building one’s confidence and self-esteem so they can become more effective at finding solutions. Through SFT, it is possible to learn how to take action to overcome challenges as they arise with less stress and greater success.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kim recently graduated from Western University with a BA in psychology and criminology. Her interest in learning about people’s behaviors has led her to pursue a role as a content creator with Your Story Counselling to develop a further understanding of how the mind works. Kim is passionate about pursuing a career that supports individuals in their journals to realize their potential within themselves.




 

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