Within this essay I shall provide a personal evaluation of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). I shall endeavour to outline the main principles, processes and strengths. I will also explore some of the weaknesses of the approach demonstrating some of the limitations in terms of application to specific issues and problems. Additionally, the essay will explore issues of compatibility between SFBT and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I will also outline how and why I would incorporate SFBT into my personal practice as a companion to CBT.
Solution focused brief therapy (SFBT) is described by Richard K. Nongard as follows;
“Solution focused brief therapy (SBFT) is strengths based approach that is focused on solution building rather than problem solving. It is a compantacy based model that minimises the emphasis on the problems of the past and instead highlights the client’s strengths and prior successes. SFBT is founded on the grounds that there are exceptions to every problem and though exploring these exceptions and having a clear picture of the desired future, solutions can be generated by the client and the therapist”. Richard K.Nongard (1994, p.5).
The development of SFBT as a tool for therapists can be understood in relation to the historical context of the developments within psychotherapy itself. Traditionally psychotherapeutic counsellors were considered the ‘experts’ treating the client’s problems. In the latter end of the 1950s and onwards there had been a growing alternative approach in psychology focusing on the clients knowledge and expertise and the counsellors collaborative roll in therapy.
SFBT was first conceptualised by Steve De Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg and colleagues at the Brief Family Therapy Centre in Milwaukee Wisconsin in the 1980s. Research was initiated to explore what made counselling successful. There was a move from problem focused therapy (what is in the past) to solution focused therapy (focusing on a depiction of how the future could be). The principles of this approach rest on the idea that whatever the presenting issues the client is the expert, that he/she has the ability to change the direction of their own lives. This is outlined by Sharry, Darmody and Madden when they state; “The focus of the counselling is on where the client wants to go, rather than where they have been. In order for this to happen, The counsellor takes on a curious, “unknowing” stance with the client, letting him or her become the expert on the presenting problem”. (Sharry, Darmody and Madden, 2002, cited in Burwell, R. Chen, P, C. 2006).
SFBT owes, in part, it’s development to the advent of post modernist thinking and its relative tenants that argue that there is no such thing as absolute truth. By extension SFBT draws also on the constructivists ideas that reality is an internal psychological creation of an individual’s perception of the world. Nicholas and Schwartz explain this idea as follows;
“Reality doesn’t exist as a ‘world out there’ but, instead is a mental construction of the observer’ (Nicholas and Schwartz, cited in E. D. Cunanan, 2003, p 8).
It would appear that De Shazer formulated this therapy to deal quickly and effectively with debilitating presenting issues allowing for further assessment and planning for strategies for change, should the client need it. SFBT is an important theoretic tool that can compliment longer time frame therapeutic approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic approaches to client difficulties.
Solution focused brief therapy can be characterised as a short term, time limited, brief therapy with approximately 1-5 sessions and each session should be collaborative. It is a non-pathological therapy therefore it is not necessary to need an understanding of, or investigate the origins of the...