What are some effective Solution Focused Therapy interventions?

This blog post will explore what are some effective interventions that are used in Solution Brief therapy sessions as well as what Solution Brief therapy is. 

We will also explore the applications of reality therapy and the effectiveness of reality therapy as well as its limitations. 

What are some effective Solution Focused Therapy interventions?

Some of the effective interventions used in Solution Focused therapy include:

Compliments

Compliments that acknowledge the ability of the client to bring about change and allow hopes to become reality is an intervention that is frequently used in SFT, to help the client develop an awareness of what is working versus what is not working. 

This intervention focuses on helping clients focus on what they can do to bring about more effective change as well as take action to help them attain goals. 

Instilling Hope 

Another intervention that is used in solution focused therapy is to instil hope by acknowledging the abilities of the clients so as to bring about higher levels of optimism for them to try new things that can bring about positive change and further progress. 

By instilling hope, this intervention increases the client’s motivation to strive for goals in addition to better levels of well-being as well as improve or adopt positive behaviours. 

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a thinking tool that helps people analyse and generate new ideas by structuring the information they already have so as to give them a reference point from where they can start working on their goals. 

This is helpful as an intervention when hope is low and these new ideas are not self generated automatically as it provides a way to brainstorm solutions by exploring options that they have and resources that they can pull on for more desired outcomes. 

Empathy

Empathy is a vital intervention that is done from the start of the session to help the client feel heard and understood by the therapist so that there is movement forward towards progress in the client’s therapeutic journey. This is often done by various skills such as reflection, active listening etc that can help the client feel understood and acknowledged.

Recognising Strengths

Another intervention that is effective in helping client’s feel hopeful is to seek out their positive assets and strengths and make them aware of these things so as to aid in goals setting. 

By highlighting strengths the therapist can help an individual align their strengths with their goals so as to increase self esteem and improve their progress towards their goals for change and improvement. 

Miracle Question

Miracle Question is an intervention that helps clients identify goals for themselves. It is a question that involves a little bit of imagination about the possibility of the problem being solved the next morning as a miracle, and what would be different if that happened.

This question can help clients identify what they want in their lives and what they need for their goals to be realised. This question can help both therapist and clients identify goals as well as possible planning strategies that they can consider in meeting those goals. 

Exception Questions

These questions help separate problems from reality as well as help clients from over-generalizing their problems.

These questions are designed to help client’s look at the condition of their lives more realistically so as to help them understand how their problems arise and what are some things that they might be doing that resolve the problems. 

These questions help people identify moments in their life where the problem is not a problem to consider various solutions that they can apply in resolving the problem. It is useful for action taking and solution generating. 

Scaling Questions

Scaling questions are designed to help a client describe their experiences as well as evaluate their motivation to resolve problems. 

These questions can also be used as a follow up to understand where the client stands in terms of their motivation to bring change as well. 

An example of a scaling question:

“On a scale of 1-10, with 10 representing the best it can be and one the worst, where would you say you are today?”

Coping Questions

These types of questions help clients to become aware of their resilience by highlighting that they are the ex[erts of their lives and that they are doing things that they have been coping with.

It also helps the client see that they are capable of control over their own lives and not entirely helpless, it also helps them see what works for them, as well as grow in their ability to cope.

Example:

“How have you managed so far?”

Presupposing Change intervention

The “presupposing change” technique is an effective intervention to help people recognize the good things that happen in their day- to-day life instead of cursing on the problem only.

It helps the client get a headstart in helping themselves become more solution focused rather than problem focused. 

This technique helps clients be attentive to the positive things in their lives, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant- this involves paying attention and giving due credit to every small step of progress that a client makes to maintain motivation towards their solutions. 

What is Solution focused Therapy?

Solution-focused therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is focused on building solutions for problems that the client brings to the discussion- problems that are in the present.

This form of therapy explores a client’s current situations and what they can do in the present to resolve their problems as well as instil hope for the future. 

This form of therapy was developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg in the 1970s and 80s. 

This therapy does not rely on a single therapy of psychotherapy or psychology and it is not focused on the past experiences but rather stresses the importance of discussing the solutions rather than the problems. 

The goal of SFT is to find a solution and implement the solution as soon as possible and this form of therapy is often brief so as to minimise the time step in suffering. It focuses on realistic solutions that will work and can be applied in many contexts- individual, family as well as group therapy. 

What is the theory behind Solution Focused therapy?

There is no single psychological theory that solution focused therapy bases it’s formulation on; rather it is based on the idea that the solution to problems are found in the exceptions where the problem is not affecting the individual actively. 

It is a logical approach that seeks to find rational and long lasting solutions that can be applied quickly and effectively. 

In Thai form of therapy, the therapist helps the client formulate a solution based on these exceptions and how these exceptions are different from the times they struggled with the problem. 

The therapist also helps the client set goals and develop solutions based on these expectations so it involves a collaborative effort from both parties as it assumes that the individual is the expert of their lives and has the motivation to seek out solutions and put this into practice to improve their life. 

What are the applications for solution focused therapy?

Various studies have found that Solution focused therapy is best or most efficient in cases where the individual is focused on trying to solve a problem or reach a goal. 

It can be used in the cases of individual intervention or in group settings and the techniques can also be used with other forms of therapy.

SResearch shows that SFT is effective and can be applied in the following cases:

  • Improving behaviours in children at home or school settings
  • To reduce behavioural problems with teenagers 
  • To resolve and manage conflict
  • In the case of marital problems as well as couples counselling
  • To Help individual resolve day to day problems related to stress

This form of therapy, though it is effective, is not recommended for use in severe mental health conditions. 

What are the limitations of Solution focused therapy?

Some of the limitations of Solution Focused therapy are:

This form of therapy seeks out quick solutions which might lead to the therapist and the client missing out on underlying issues that are more deep and severe. 

The fact that it is so goal oriented, it might not allow for empathetic and emotional development within the client as well as within the relationship between therapist and client. 

It can be limiting in the demand that the client must always be able to fix the problem or address the problem and cause frustration and disappointment when the client is unable to 

It is an  inappropriate form of intervention if clients want to concentrate more on their symptoms so it is generally not appropriate for clients with major mental disorders.

This form of therapy does not recognise the efforts of the therapist as it pushes the client to find solutions and apply them on their own at the same time, the therapist will have to take full responsibility when the interventions do not work. 

Therapists must take everything at the face value of what the client says in spite of the assessment that they make, so there is no way a therapist can stop a therapist from terminating even if the client is not ready for it. 

Sometimes, the client might focus on something that is not the actual problem. For example, the client might be worried about procrastinating and the efforts would be towards finding a solution for it but the main issue is the client’s anxiety or fear of failure. 

But it will be left unaddressed unless the client is able to identify this as the problem since it is assumed that the client is the expert of their lives and given full autonomy.

Conclusion

This blog post has explored what are some effective interventions that are used in solution focused therapy sessions as well as what solution focused therapy is. 

We will also explore the applications of reality therapy and the effectiveness of reality therapy as well as its limitations.

FAQ related to Solution focused therapy interventions

Who is solution focused therapy good for?

SFBT may be effective for short term problems amongst adults, teens, and children. It can also be helpful in terms of stress management, relationships issues, mild depression and anxiety, as well as self-esteem issues. 

What does it mean to be solution focused?

To be Solution-focused is to be goal directed, future focused with the intent to search and seek out solutions from the problem rather than despairing about the problem. 

What is an example of an exception question in solution focused therapy?

One example of an exception question that is used in solution focused therapy to help clients develop insight to times where the problem did not persist include: 

“Tell me about times when you don’t get angry?”

Or,

“Tell me about times you felt most capable.”.

References

Caddell.J. What Is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy? Verywell well. Retrieved on 19th December 2021. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-solution-focused-brief-therapy-2337728#toc-what-is-solution-focused-brief-therapy

Ackerman.C. What is Solution-Focused Therapy: 3 Essential Techniques. Positive Psychology. Retrieved on 19th December 2021. https://positivepsychology.com/solution-focused-therapy/

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