Solution Focused Therapy Interventions (A list)

This blog discusses solution-focused therapy interventions.

There is a lot more to learn about solution-focused therapy in this blog, so let’s not delay further and take a start from the definition of SFBT, that is, solution-focused brief therapy.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-focused brief counseling (SFBT) focuses on the current and future conditions and goals of an individual rather than past experiences.

During this goal-oriented treatment, the symptoms or problems that require a person to be treated are typically not addressed. 

Instead, a qualified therapist encourages those in treatment to create a vision of the future and provides help as they evaluate the skills, resources, and capabilities needed to achieve that vision effectively.

History and Development of SFBT

The need for an alternative approach to therapy has been recognized as mental health professionals have started to note the amount of energy, time, money, and other resources expended addressing and evaluating the problems found during the counseling phase, while concerns that originally led a patient to counsel have continued to have a negative effect. In reaction to this finding, Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg of the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, along with their team, created a short-term solution-focused therapy in the early 1980s.

The goal of SFBT is to create practical solutions as soon as possible, rather than to hold people in therapy for lengthy periods of time, in order to facilitate long-term recovery for those in therapy. 

SFBT has evolved into a fast, successful treatment modality that has been around for roughly 3 decades and continues to evolve and adapt in order to meet the needs of those in therapy.

Therapists are currently trained in approaches in the United States, Canada, South America, Asia, and Europe.

The concepts of solution-focused therapy have been extended to a wide range of contexts, including classrooms, workplaces, and other settings where individuals are motivated to accomplish personal goals and strengthen interpersonal relationships.

How solutions focussed therapy Works

SFBT was established by Milwaukee psychotherapists Steve De Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg in the late 1970s, early 1980s, out of a value in paying more attention to what people want and what works best for the person, as opposed to more traditional psychotherapy that presumes to know what works for different types of problems.

One of the core vision of SFBT therapists was that the solution to the issue was found in the “exceptions” or times when one was free from the problem or took steps to manage the issue.

Working from the theory that all persons are at least somewhat motivated to find remedies, SFBT begins with what the person is doing to start behavioral and lifestyle changes.

The therapist uses treatments such as specific questioning techniques, 0-10 scales, sympathy, and positive feedback that help a person recognize his or her own virtues, such as courage and strength, which have recently given him or her a hard time and are likely to work well in the future.

Individuals tend to concentrate on what they can do, rather than what they can’t do, helping them to find solutions and create meaningful improvements more quickly.

Solution-focused therapy interventions

The following are some solution-focused therapy interventions:

The Miracle Question

The miracle problem is a method that counselors can use to help clients think ‘outside the square’ about potential possibilities and results for the future. 

“The issue of miracles has been raised thousands of times all over the world.

This was improved as professionals experimented with various ways to inquire. The question is better posed deliberately and dramatically. 

Now, I want to ask you a really odd question. Suppose that when you’re sleeping tonight and the entire house is silent, a miracle happens.

The blessing is that the issue that took you here has been solved. However, because you’re sleeping, you don’t know the miracle has happened.

So, when you wake up tomorrow morning, what’s going to be the next thing to tell you that a miracle has happened and that the question that brought you here is solved? (Shazer, 1988, p. 5) 

Asked this way, the miracle question asks clients to make a leap of faith and envision how their life will improve when the issue is resolved.

It’s not that easy for clients.

This needs them to make a radical change from problem-saturated thinking to concentrate on solutions.

Some clients require time and assistance to make the change happen. (De Jong & Kim Berg, 2002)

Exception Questions

Having created a clear picture of the cure, the counselor has started to obtain a knowledge of what the client wants to accomplish, and the counselor and client will continue to work on these solutions.

It is done by highlighting anomalies in the life of the client that are counteracting the problem. It helps inspire clients to find solutions. 

Incident questions give clients the ability to recognize times when circumstances were different for them. Examples of exception questions include: 

  • Tell me about the moments when you’re not going to get upset. 
  • Tell me about the times you’ve been feeling the happiest. 
  • What was the last time you thought like you had a better day? 
  • Is there ever a moment when you were content with your relationship? 
  • How was the day that made it a better day? 
  • Can you think of a time when there was no problem in your life? 

When discussing exceptions, be mindful that these questions may be structured to ask for the client’s interpretation of exceptions (individual questions) and the client’s interpretation of what significant others may think (relationship questions).

Scaling Questions

Scaling questions allow clients to see their issues on a scale. Scaling questions ask clients to assess their position on a scale (usually from 1 to 10, with one being the least desirable and 10 the most desirable).

Scaling questions can be a helpful way to track coaches’ progress toward goals and control gradual change. 

“To use these kinds of questions, the therapist starts by discussing a scale from one to ten where each number represents the client’s complaint(s) rating.

The therapist could ask, “On a scale of one to ten, with one being the worst this issue has ever been, and ten the best things will be, where would you rank things today?

Once a number is given to a therapist, he or she explores how that rating converts into action-talk.

For example, if the client scores his or her condition at three, the therapist asks, “What happens directly to suggest to you that it is three? “The next step is to assess the priorities and the desired outcomes.

To do so, the therapist asks the client whether it will be appropriate for him or her to believe that the treatment goals have been achieved or that the counseling has been successful. 

We are looking for incremental improvements that will reflect an improvement in the direction of goals and desired results. “(Bertolino & O’Hanlon, 2002, pg. 4) 

Examples of scaling-up questions include:

  • You said things were between a 5 and a 6. What’s going to have to happen so you could say things were between a 6 and a 7? 
  • How sure are you that you will have a good day like you did last week, on a scale from zero to 10, where zero equals no trust, and 10 means you have every confidence? 

Presupposing Change

Once clients concentrate on addressing the negative aspects (or problems) of their lives, positive improvements may often be ignored, dismissed, or discounted due to the continuous nature of the problem. 

The solution-focused approach encourages counselors to be attentive to meaningful (however small) changes in the lives of their clients.

Issues that presuppose change can be helpful in helping clients to consider these changes.

Questions like, “What’s different, or better, since I saw you last time? “This question encourages clients to consider the likelihood that change (possibly positive change) has recently occurred in their lives.

When there is no indication of significant progress, counselors can follow a line of questioning that relates to the capacity of the client to cope. 

Questions like: 

  • Why come things don’t get any worse for you? 
  • Which has stopped the complete catastrophe from occurring? 
  • How did you keep going to fall apart? 

Such inquiries should be followed up by a counselor who confidently supports the client with respect to any steps they have taken to deal with.(Geldard & Geldard, 2005)

The following is a list of some good books on solution-focused therapy.

These books are a great source of increasing knowledge. Just click the book you wish to study and you will be redirected to the page form where you can access it.

What is the miracle question in Solution Focused Therapy?

The miracle question or “problem is gone” query is a probing technique that may be used by a mentor, psychiatrist, or psychologist to encourage the person to imagine and explain in-depth how the world will be changed when the concern is no longer present.

What are the benefits of solution-focused therapy?

We might be agonizing for small information and catastrophizing bigger data.

Through a solution-focused practitioner, the person may learn easily to step on from this habit of thought and continue to be motivated to fix their problems.

What is the scaling in solution-focused therapy?

A way to support a person break down their view of their condition into ‘classes’ is to use scaling in therapy or counseling.

Doing this accomplishes three things: We ‘re building a shield around the environment and it doesn’t sound infinite and uncontrollable any more.

What is the goal of solution-focused brief therapy?

Rather than holding patients in treatment for lengthy periods of time, SFBT seeks to create practical strategies as soon as feasible in order to facilitate sustainable recovery for those in counseling.

What is the miracle question?

The miracle question or “problem is gone” query is a probing technique that may be used by a mentor, psychiatrist, or psychologist to encourage the person to imagine and explain in-depth how the world will be changed when the concern is no longer present.

Is solution-focused therapy CBT?

Like other mainstream psychotherapy methods such as cognitive-behavioral treatment or psychodynamic counseling, no paradigm is focused on SFBT.

It is not a question of solving problems, diagnosing mental illness, or healing diseases.

This blog explained in detail the solution-focused brief therapy and interventions used in solution-focused therapy.

If you have any questions or queries regarding this blog, let us know through your comments in the comments section. We will be glad to assist you.


Solution–Focused Brief Therapy Overview, Solution–Focused Brief Therapy

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy | Psychology Today