Solution-focused brief therapy is an approach to psychotherapy based on finding and building solutions, rather than in-depth analysing of problems. Although it acknowledges present problems and past causes, it explores and focuses on an individual’s current resources and future hopes – the preferred future – helping them to look forward and use their own strengths to achieve their goals.
As its name suggests, solution-focused brief therapy is considered a time-limited approach, however the number of sessions will vary from client to client, although with the emphasis on moving the client forward as efficiently as possible. The effects are intended, and have been shown, to be long-lasting.
Developed by extensive research by therapists in 1960s at the Mental Research Institute, California, it was evolved further in the 1980s by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg, with their team at the Brief Family Centre, and incorporating the work of Milton Erickson, an eminent and highly successful psychiatrist who also used hypnosis very effectively for his clients. The therapy was founded on seven basic philosophies/ assumptions.
These concepts define the solution-focused approach.
Well, rather than dwelling on an individual’s weaknesses or limitations, solution-focused therapy concentrates solely on an individual’s strengths and possibilities to help them move forward. It works by helping them overcome problems without tackling them directly – using the solution-building concept to foster change and help individuals to develop a set of clear, concise and realistic goals. It is the role of a solution-focused therapist to help elicit and implement these solutions via a series of discussions.
In these discussions, the therapist will help individuals to envisage a clear and detailed picture of how they see their future – and how things will be better once changes are made. They will also encourage them to explore past experiences and times when they were as happy as they see themselves in their future vision. These processes aim to evoke a sense of hope and expectation and make a future solution seem possible.
It is essentially the future vision that drives the therapy process forward – ensuring that it is directional and as a result, brief. Therapists can use this future solution to shape the techniques and questions that will comprise discussions. These aim to help the individual realise their potential and find the courage to move forward.
Solution focused hypnotherapy combines the powerful tools of SFT with clinical hypnotherapy. Psychiatrist and psychologist Milton Erickson successfully used clinical hypnotherapy when treating his clients. It’s fair to say that he is one of the towering and most respected figures in the development of medical and clinical hypnosis. Solution focused hypnotherapists have therefore evolved the SFBT model by adding clinical hypnosis to cement the goals and progress of the client, and using trance to mimic the state of REM for the benefit of the client. Therefore the first part of the session will focus on SFT and the second part will focus on hypnosis to build on the first.
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