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					    Solution Focused Therapy
• Steve deShazer – Brief Family Therapy
  Center in Milwaukee
• Bill O’Hanlon – Possibility Therapy
• Developed their ideas separately but both
  studied under Milton Erickson
• Influenced by the Mental Research
  Institute, Jay Haley & Salvador Minuchin
    Solution Focused Therapy
• Dysfunctional people get stuck in dealing
  with their problems, relying on patterns
  that do not work.
• SFT is aimed at breaking such repetitive,
  nonproductive behavioral patterns by
  enabling people to take a more positive
  view of troublesome situations & actively
  participate in doing something different.
    Solution Focused Therapy
• The presenting problem is simply the
  problem for which a solution needs to be
  worked out. No extensive analysis is
• Assumes that people really want to
• When the counselor’s directions are not
  followed, s/he is cooperating by teaching
  the counselor the best way to help him/her
    Solution Focused Therapy
Only small amounts of change is needed:
• This encourages people to realize that
  they can make progress
• This boosts confidence & optimism &
  creates a ripple effect
    Solution Focused Therapy
The counselor determines how active clients
  are in the process of change:
• Visitors – not involved in the problem &
  are not part of the solution
• Complainants – observe & describe
  problems but are not invested in solving
• Customers – willing to work to solve the
    Solution Focused Therapy
• SFT counselors are facilitators of change,
  who help clients access the resources &
  strengths that they already have but are
  not aware of or are not utilizing

• Counselors work with clients to change
  their perspective on a problem and use
  wording that assumes positive change
    Solution Focused Therapy
• Presuppositional questions - “What good
  has happened since our last session?”
• Positive blame & recognition statements –
  “How did you make that happen?”
• “In spite of ____ you still ____.”
• Solutions do not have to be as complex as
  the problem.
    Solution Focused Therapy
• Counseling is over when the agreed upon
  outcome has been reached
• The goal is to make small changes – in
  both perception & behavior – and to do so
• There is no difference between short-term
  & long-term problems, some problems
  endure longer because the right solution
  has not been employed
    Solution Focused Therapy
• SFT counselors encourage, challenge &
  set up expectations for change
• They help clients be creative & generate
  novel approaches to their problems
• SFT counselors emphasize exception
• Change is inevitable & SFT helps clients
  reframe their situations positively
    Solution Focused Therapy
• SFT is short-term, often between 5 & 10
• Cocreate a problem – there is an
  agreement on which problem needs to be
• Miracle question – asks for a hypothetical
  solution, “What would you do differently?”
    Solution Focused Therapy
• Focus on exceptions – look for when the
  client’s goal may be happening
• Scaling – asking a client to rate how far
  along s/he is on the solution
• Qualitative change – altering the
  frequency & duration of a dysfunction
• Compliments – praises a client strength &
  lead into an assignment
    Solution Focused Therapy
• Clue – builds momentum & emphasizes
  the clients usual positive behavior
• Skeleton keys – using procedures that
  have worked before that may work in other
    Solution Focused Therapy
Five interventions:
• Before the next session, observe what
  happens in your life that you want to
  continue to happen
• Do something different – this means
  explore the range of possibilities, rather
  than continuing to do what one has always
    Solution Focused Therapy
• Pay attention to what you do when you
  overcome the problem
• A lot of people in your situation would
  have ….. – realize that they have options
• Write, read & burn your thoughts – write
  about problematic times, read them & then
  burn the writings, in an attempt to move on

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