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Therapeutic Modalities

Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT)

What is Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-focused therapy (SFBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on building solutions rather than solving problems. It’s also known as solution-focused brief therapy or brief therapy. In the most basic sense, SFBT is a hope friendly, positive emotion eliciting, future-oriented vehicle for formulating, motivating, achieving, and sustaining desired behavioral change.

SFBT is a short-term therapy that typically involves three to five sessions. It focuses on:

  • Setting goals and working out how to achieve them
  • Current resources and future hopes
  • Positive change by encouraging you to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t
  • Incorporating positive psychology principles and practices

Solution-Focused practitioners develop solutions by first generating a detailed description of how the client’s life will be different when the problem is gone or their situation improved to a degree satisfactory to the client. Therapist and client then carefully search through the client’s life experience and behavioral repertoire to discover the necessary resources needed to co-construct a practical and sustainable solution that the client can readily implement. Typically this process involves identifying and exploring previous “exceptions,” e.g. times when the client has successfully coped with or addressed previous difficulties and challenges. In an inherently respectful and practical interview process, SF therapists and their clients consistently collaborate in identifying goals reflective of clients’ best hopes and developing satisfying solutions.


Goal Development Questions

SF therapists variously begin a first session with one or more goal development question. These might variously include asking clients to describe their best hope for what will be different as a result of coming to therapy, what needs to happen as a result of coming in so that afterwards the client (and/or a person who cares about them) will be able to look back and think that it had been a good idea to come, or what needs to happen so that clients would be able to say afterwards that coming was not a waste of their time.

Once a goal has been identified, SF therapists ask their clients questions designed to generate a detailed description of what the client’s life will be like when the goal has been achieved. Once a detailed description has been developed of how the client’s life will be different after the goal has been achieved, the therapist and client begin searching through the client’s life experiences and behavioral repertoire for exceptions, e.g. times when in at least some parts of the goal have already happened.

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