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.

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Do you have to be an Optimist?

Do we have to be particular sorts of people to use the Solution Focused approach. Evan George argues that we do not. Using the approach involves adopting a position in a very conscious and determined way and this is based on a choice, It does not depend on the vagaries, the lottery of what sort of person we may happen to be.

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