The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

What is the Solution Focused Approach?

The Solution Focused approach was developed in America in the 1980s by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. After spending many years studying problem behaviour and trying to change it they switched to studying 'solution behaviour' and how to promote it! Two simple ideas lie at the bottom of solution focus.

Nobody is perfect and this applies to our problems as well as everything else. If no-one can 'do' their problem perfectly there must always be times when they don't do them so well. These times de Shazer and Berg called exceptions. Whatever the person is doing differently at these 'exceptional' times will be the basis of a potential solution. Part of the solution focused practitioner's task is therefore to discover whatever a person is already doing which might contribute to the resolution of the problem with which they have come.

The second simple idea is that knowing where you want to get to makes the getting there much more likely. One of the common consequences of a serious problem is that it clouds our view of the future. We know that we don't want the problem but we have lost sight of what it is we do want. Solution focused practitioners ask lots of questions about what life might be like if the problem was solved. As the answers to these questions gradually unfold both practitioner and client begin to get a picture of where they should be heading. The clearer this becomes the greater the possibility of it beginning to happen.

These two ideas together make up solution focused brief therapy which widespread research shows to be effective in 65-83% of cases in an average of 4-5 sessions.


Are we the kill-joys of the therapeutic world?

What is the status of 'body language' in the SF approach. We know that the words we use are only a small part of the way that we communicate and that our understanding of those words in general conversation is mediated through our processing of 'body language'. So how do SF practitioners think about this?

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