What is Solution-focused therapy?
In solution-focused therapy patient and Therapist work together in a collaborative manner to achieve change. Unlike therapeutic modalities such as Psychoanalysis, little exploration is made of the patient’s past beyond areas where the Therapist might express empathy for challenges they have experienced; rather, the focus of therapy is on the present and the future.
The hope and expectation of Solution-focused therapy is that meaningful behavioural change can be achieved rapidly, with measurable results being seen in a short period of time. It is a positive approach to behavioural change that identifies and builds on strengths and capabilities that the patient already has and assumes not just that patients are capable of positive change, but that they are already making a positive change in a number of areas of their lives.
A key aspect of Solution-focused Therapy is the asking and answering of questions in a rather structured way. Therapists pose certain structured questions to their patients that help them both work to identify what the patient’s goals are, to envision what their life will look like when their goals have been accomplished—or when their problems have diminished to the point whereby they are no longer a serious issue—and what aspects of the patient’s goals are already being achieved to some extent. For example, in a patient dealing with substance abuse or alcoholism, they might explore those days or times of the day when they are not using the substance in question and look at what they are doing right during those periods. They will explore how the patient has managed to achieve their current level of progress, and what they are already doing well in certain aspects of their lives, with a view to building on the competencies that they already have.
The “Miracle Question” in Solution-focused Therapy
In the course of therapy, the Solution-focused Therapist typically asks certain key questions, such as “miracle questions”. The “miracle question” asks the patient to envision what their life would look like if, through some miracle, their problem or problems suddenly vanished overnight and everything in their life was the way they wanted it to be. This helps them to see a future in which they are not being held back by their presenting issues, and in which they are able to work steadily towards their goals and to isolate the specific problems or behaviours that are currently preventing them from achieving what they would like to.
Once the patient has established what they would like the future to look like, they can also identify the opposite—when things have been at their worst for them. This enables them to explore their current situation, place it on a scale between best and worst, and figure out what they are already doing right. With this information, the patient can start to work on a coherent strategy towards making positive behavioural change. They are encouraged to keep track of their experiences so that they can quickly and easily identify positive change when it happens. It becomes easier for them to identify the strengths and resources they already have, including personal qualities, and networks of family members or friends who are available to help them. The act of identifying these actual and potential supports is also empowering, in and of itself.
How can I get Solution-focused Therapy in London?
If you would like to talk to someone about solution-focused therapy, please get in touch with us at the Private Therapy Clinic by telephone at: 020 3887 1738 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cade, B., and W.H. O’Hanlon: A Brief Guide to Brief Therapy.W. Norton & Co 1993.
Guterman, J.T. (2006). Mastering the Art of Solution-Focused Counseling. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Miller, S.D., M.A. Hubble, B.L. Duncan; Handbook of Solution-focused Brief Therapy.Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996