Solution-focused therapy hinges on the proposition that each problem is unique and therefore by the examination of the differences and have a vivid picture of a desirable future, both a counselor and client can harness solutions. Mainly, solution-focused therapy focuses on core competencies and a future. Besides, the approach magnifies and employs the strengths of a client to secure a desirable future.
Psychotherapy methods during the early twentieth century focused solely on the problems and pathology of clients. Midway through the century, there was a general shift in direction from the traditional emphasis on past experiences to a 'now' methodology. In the 1970s, most practitioners such as family therapists were cognizant of their biases, and they began to analyses cases on a contextual basis (Bannink, 2007).
The solution-focused approach was a radical shift in the way of thinking therapy because it held that solutions to problems could be found within an individual and their sphere of social networks. The debate concerning the superiority of the therapist compared to the client significantly transformed the relationship between the client and the therapist. Today, the client is deemed as an authority with regards to their lives. This new perspective established a collaborative style in counseling and created a platform for solution-focused therapy to flourish (de Jong & Berg, 1997).
Historically, solution-focused therapy began in the 1980s through the efforts of de Shazer and Berg. They expanded on the idea that finding solutions or trying to understand the root causes of a problem did more harm than good. They proposed that there is no necessary relationship between the solution development process and the problem. They maintained that the client was the expert and that if something was not broken, then there was no need trying to repair it (Lightfoot Jr, 2014).
Another leading name in the development of the solution-focused approach was psychiatrist Milton Erickson. To start with, he gave students the final story of a book and asked them to guess the events that had preceded. He explained the SBT worked similarly. That is, therapeutic approaches should begin from the patient's expected end. Further, he stressed the competence of the patient and found it necessary to solicit for solutions from clients as well (de Shazer, 1988).
Solution-Focused Therapy Techniques
The solution-focused techniques are founded on some basic assumptions: one is that focusing on solution increases the probability of a brief session; each client is unique and requires a unique solution; patients desire to change, have the capacity and are putting efforts to change; patients tend to have a one-sided view of their problems; small changes inspire big changes (Bannink, 2007).
The first technique is the miracle question. This is an approach that is meant to provoke the client to think outside the box concerning the potential future outcomes. The question has been asked in different ways by different practitioners. Below is a sample of the miracle question;
Now, I want to ask you a strange question. Suppose that while you are sleeping tonight and the entire house is quiet, a miracle happens. The miracle is that the problem which brought you here is solved. However because you are sleeping, you don't know that themiracle has happened. So, when you wake up tomorrow morning, what will be different that will tell you that a miracle has happened and the problem which brought you here issolved? (de Shazer, 1988, p.5).
The miracle question offers the patient the impetus to visualize how their experiences would change if their problem ceased. The primary aim is to have the client thinking concerning solutions and not on the problem.
The exception questions follow the miracle question. These questions help to highlight the issues in the patient's life that are opposite of their current situation. It gives them the chance to think about the time when things were better or different. Suggestions include asking the client to talk about times when they did not have the problem or when they felt the happiest (Bannink, 2007).
The scaling questions are the next category in the solution-focused approach. These questions encourage clients to view their problem on a linear scale or continuum. The problem is usually weighed on a scale of one to ten with one being the least desired situation and ten the most desired outcome. The scaling approach is useful for measuring the progress of the client during the therapy sessions (Bannink, 2007).
Solution-Focused Therapy in Children and Adolescents
The solution-focused techniques are ideal for use with adult patients however it is possible to tailor the approach to suit children and adolescents. One strategy to use with children is to have their parents or guardians accompany them and help them answer the questions or answer some of the questions on their behalf because they are in a better position to define the different emotions of the child. Another strategy is to have the children express their own opinions concerning the situation. The therapist should observe and take keen note of the child's perspectives remembering that the main agenda of SBT is to focus on the competencies of the client (Thomas, 2013).
Theoretical Perspective of Solution-Focused Therapy
The overarching perspective that informed the development and continues to shape the practice of solution-focused therapy is social constructionism. The central idea here is that people's ideas about their problems and solutions revolve around daily communication with others. Also, the changes in perceptions of individuals occur in an environment from which they derive meaning (Bannink, 2007).
The solution-focused approach is suitable for addressing the issues facing Rico. First, there is an underlying willingness on by Rico to improve. This is one of the assumptions on which the SBT approach is founded. Secondly, the theoretical underpinning of the approach is social constructionism. This deals mainly with communication between a person and the social networks. Rico seems to be having a problem communicating effectively with family, friends, and schoolmates. This evidence underscores the relevance of the approach to Rico's case.
Impact of Techniques on Client
The techniques mentioned in the solution-focused methodology have the potential to change the attitude of the client and prepare him for complete recovery. The miracle question, for instance, could make the client focus on the ideal situation of living a normal life like the rest of the friends. Again, listening to the perspectives of the client concerning the expected future could create a collaborative environment and enhance the chances of recovery.
At the center of the solution-focused style is communication between the client and the therapist (Corey, 2005). The case reveals that the patient is prepared to change. Focusing on the core strengths of the client such as his positive attitude is a good entry point to establish a therapeutic relationship with the client.
The client seems to come from a culture that emphasizes strong family ties. Rico's mother offers all the support in an attempt to improve his condition. The strong family tie is a strength that puts Rico at an advantage towards his recovery. It should be noted however that the overprotection by the mother can be a hindrance to therapy. The solution-focused approach addresses these issues because the therapists deal directly with the client and listen to the suggestions concerning the future.
Bannink, F. P. (2007). Solution-focused brief therapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 10-17.
Corey, G. (2005). Theory and practice of counsellign and psychotherapy. Belomont, CA: Wadsworth.
de Jong, P., & Berg, I. K. (1997). Interviewing for solutions. California: Brooks/Cole.
de Shazer, S. (1988). Clues: Investigating solutions in brief therapy. New York: Norton.
Lightfoot Jr, J. M. (2014). Solution focused therapy. International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, 238-240.
Thomas, F. (2013, October 10). Techniques with children and their families that fit well with solution focused therapy. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from AAMFT: http://www.aamft.org/handouts/310.pdf
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