Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) : Example and Techniques

Last Update on September 1, 2023 : Published on September 3, 2023
What Is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

The uncertainties and challenges life brings are inevitable. Hence, effective ways to overcome difficulties and a path toward positive change are often sought when faced with difficulties. Say, for example, when an appliance at your home is causing problems, you might want to buy a new one, and for that, you will talk to the family.

However, instead of focusing on getting the new appliance, if the family members ask questions like “How long have we been using the appliance,” Which part of it is not working properly? “Can’t you work without it,” and more such questions. You will probably feel frustrated as the real issue is not being addressed. You must think why the duration and part matter when buying a new one is the solution. Right?

The example shows how people turn their focus from solutions to unnecessary questions. Asking questions doesn’t always help when looking for a solution.

When a pressing issue requires attention, the focus should never be on how or why. It should be the solution. This is what solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) propagates. The theory comes as a beacon of hope in such moments. It is a therapeutic approach that is simple and aims at optimism. With its help, you can rewrite your narratives and embrace brighter futures.

List of Contents

What Is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is goal-oriented. It focuses on finding a solution rather than dwelling on problems. Of course, one needs to pay attention to the problem to find a solution, but that doesn’t support diving deep into the problem. I

t is like if you are facing a problem today, there is no sense going into your childhood to understand why you behave in such a manner and do things. Instead, the session is focused on the present and how correcting things today will form the future.

The therapists and clients work together to identify strengths, resources, and strategies that can pave the way for change. The SFBT was created by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg in the 1980s during family therapy. They noticed that most therapy discusses symptoms, issues, and problems. This is when he notices that solving problems can provide quick relief from negative symptoms rather than discussing the problem.

SFBT aims to find workable and practical solutions so that less time is spent in therapy, struggles, and suffering, and attention is paid to applying the fix. The therapy has been successful in individual, couple, and family therapy, and it addresses different issues, from everyday life stressors to events that impact life much more strongly.

The Three Major Principles of Solution-Focused Therapy

Focus on Solutions: Rather than pay attention and go deep into the problems, SFBT focuses on finding and creating solutions. This shift in focus from problem to solution empowers individuals to take actionable steps toward their goals.

Boost Strengths: SFBT implements ways to explore an individual’s strengths, skills, and past successes, thereby building confidence and providing a foundation to address life challenges.

Future-Oriented Approach: SFBT encourages clients to envision their desired future, helping them set realistic goals and identify the steps needed to reach them. This promotes motivation and positive change.

The Aim of Solution-Focused Therapy

Solution-focused therapy conveys that individuals are not defined by their problems. It emphasizes that every person has a solution within. By shifting the focus from problems to possibilities, they can find the fix and discover strengths that might have been overshadowed.

Techniques Used in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

To make the individual envision and see the path of success and positive change, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) employs various techniques.

Miracle Question

One of the most luring techniques is the “Miracle Question.” Here, instead of focusing on what a person couldn’t achieve, the focus is on how things would change if a miracle happened.

This helps us see things differently, shifting the focus from the problem to the solution. By imagining a scenario where all the problem is gone, the client can identify the desired outcomes and provide insights into the steps that need to be worked upon.

Exception-Seeking Questions

The second technique is “Exception-Seeking Questions.” This allows the client to relate to times when things might have been different than what happened and what they are facing now. By discovering how the exceptions happened and how using individual strengths can achieve different outcomes, the client is empowered to find a solution.

The exception questions a therapist can ask include:

  • What made that day better?
  • When did you feel the happiest, and what was special about that day?
  • Can you think of the time problems that weren’t there?

As the client answers these questions, the professional will praise the individual, helping them feel confident and use their strength to achieve what they want.

Scaling Questions.

This technique helps clients evaluate their current situation on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing their desired state. This tangible measurement of progress encourages introspection into what it would take to move up the scale. By identifying the intensity of the problem, the professional can explore ways in which the person feels that the therapy is working, and specific goals can be set to get the desired outcome.

Examples of Solution-Focused Therapy in Practice

Think of a person struggling with procrastination, the most common problem we all talk about. In a Solution-Focused session, the therapist might ask to recall when the client overcame procrastination and completed a task.

Uncovering such instances will help the therapist and client identify strategies, habits, or mindsets contributing to those successes. These insights can then be applied to current challenges, effectively combating procrastination.

The Range of Issues SFBT Can Help With

Whether you are struggling with relationship conflicts, personal insecurities, or career dilemmas, SFBT provides a versatile framework for transformation. Its focus and work lie in believing that every individual has the innate ability to navigate challenges successfully. Those who want to change their life are goal-oriented, and responsive solution-focused therapy works best for them.

On average, 5 session of 45 minutes each helps one find the solution. However, in some cases, even one works wonders.

Benefits of Solution-Focused Therapy

The journey through Solution-Focused Brief Therapy had numerous benefits. The approach is empowering and makes people value themselves and their strengths. It is brief compared to traditional therapies & offers a quicker relief. Moreover, it celebrates small victories, igniting a positive spiral of change.

Empowerment: In SFBT, the individual is at the center of their journey. They are empowered to take control of their narrative and shape their future.

Efficiency: Unlike long-term therapies, SFBT delivers results in a shorter time frame, providing much-needed relief and motivation sooner.

Focus on Positivity: As the concentration is on finding solutions and achieving success, individuals experience a shift in perspective and build a positive outlook for their abilities and potential.

Collaboration: The therapy operates on a collaborative partnership between therapist and client, allowing a mutual exchange of insights and ideas.

Self-Awareness: Through exploring exceptions and strengths, clients develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their resources, and their resilience.

Short-term and cost-effective: As the therapy aims to find a solution as quickly as possible, it is cost-effective. On average, sessions can last up to 10 weeks and be finished in one session.

Client leads the way rather than the therapist: SFBT empowers clients to create goals that make them feel confident and develop problem-solving skills.

Future-oriented: Unlike traditional therapies, SFBT focuses on the present and achieving future goals. It is built around optimism and positive psychology.

Limitations of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

While Solution-Focused Brief Therapy holds immense promise, the approach might not work for those who require an in-depth exploration of their past traumas or deeply ingrained issues. Additionally, the emphasis on solutions can sometimes downplay the significance of acknowledging and processing emotions, which can be essential for healing.

Also, SFBT might not work for everyone as each individual responds differently to therapeutic approaches. It might work for some and not for others.

Embracing Hope, Creating Change: Your Journey with Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

In a world filled with challenges, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is a guiding light, illuminating the path toward hope and transformation. Through this innovative therapy, people can envision a brighter future while staying rooted in the present. Also, as it fosters positivity and self-awareness and celebrates solutions, it makes one believe in themselves.

So, if you’re seeking a way to navigate challenges, remember that Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is more than an approach—a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and hope.

With each session, each reflection, and each step forward, you’re not just rewriting your story; you’re shaping a narrative infused with positivity and possibility. Embrace the principles, celebrate the solutions, and move ahead into a future where change is not just a possibility but a promise.

About The Author

Ayush Yadav
Ayush Yadav

Aayush is a writer, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change and make people aware about the history. He holds a bachelor's in law, lives in the princely state Jaipur and is passionate about helping people in anyway possible. In his spare time, he is usually out with friends and enjoys exploring different facets of life.

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