Therapy (SFT), as its name suggests, focuses on solutions and is goal-oriented,
rather than problem focused as many other therapies are. It is also known
as Brief Solution Focused Therapy or Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and was
developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg, who were influenced by the work
of Milton Erickson. Bill O'Hanlon (who worked closely with Erickson)
adopts less structured approaches, which he calls Solution-Oriented Therapy and
Basic philosophy &
Change is constant
Clients are the
experts and define goals
resources and strengths to solve problems
Future orientation -
history is not essential
Emphasis is on what
is possible and changeable
Clients want change
work, on which SFT was initially developed (along with NLP, Human Givens,
Strategic Therapy, Solution Oriented & Possibility Therapy, and of course
Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) is primarily permissive (giving clients permission to
be who they are), validating (any response or behaviour is valid), observing,
and utilising (making use of what clients bring). Erickson also placed
emphasis on metaphors, use of language and indirect techniques.
Therapy acknowledges distress, but focuses on success. Therapy consists of
discussions in which the client is encouraged to find their own solutions.
Different forms of questions enable this process:
(1988) miracle question: "Suppose that one night, while you are asleep,
there is a miracle and the problem that brought you here is solved. However,
because you are asleep you don't know that the miracle has already happened.
When you wake up in the morning, what will be different that will tell you that
the miracle has taken place? What else?"
original version of the question
involved asking his client to look into the future and
see themselves as they wanted to be, problems solved, and then to
explain what had happened to cause this change to come about.
He might also ask clients
think of a date in the future, then worked backwards, asking them
what had happened at various points on the way.
O'Hanlon suggests other
variations of the question: a time machine, crystal ball, rainbow bridge and a
letter from a future self
Building on the miracle question:
difference would you (& others) notice?
What are the first
things you notice?
Has any of this ever
Would it help to
recreate any of these miracles?
What would need to
happen to do this?
Has anything been
better since the last appointment? What's changed? What's better?
Can you think of a
time in the past (month/year/ever) that you did not have this problem?
What would have to
happen for that to occur more often?
When doesn't the
about those times?
What are you doing
or thinking differently during those better times?
When have you been
able to stop doing....?
Are there times when
you expect to...but you remember something that helps you calm down?
How do you cope with
What keeps you
Who is your greatest
What do they do that
What do you do that
stops the problem getting worse?
When you've had this
problem before, what helped you get through then?
How did you manage
to solve the problem?
What advice would
you give to someone else who has this problem?
On a scale of 1 to
10 where 1 is the worst it's ever been and 10 is after the miracle has happened,
where are you now?
Where do you need to
What will help you
move up one point?
How can you keep
yourself at that point?
What would be the
first sign that you had moved on one point further?
Who would be the
first person to notice you've moved one point up? What would they notice?
Between now and next
time....observe what works - notice what is going well in your situation that
you would like to continue (keep doing what works)
Pay attention to
when.....(an exception happens)
Write, read, and
Write about what is bothering
you for 15 minutes each night, at the same time. When you've fully
expressed everything you think needs to be expressed, read it over each night
until you really think it's complete, and you've got it all out, then burn the
paper you've written on
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