Solutions Focused Brief Therapy (SBT)

     Solution-focused brief therapy is an approach to psychotherapy based on solution-building rather than problem-solving. It explores current resources and future hopes rather than present problems and past causes and typically involves only three to five sessions. It has great value as a preliminary and often sufficient intervention and can be used safely as an adjunct to other treatments. Developed at the Brief Family Therapy Center, Milwaukee (de Shazer et al, 1986), it originated in an interest in the inconsistencies to be found in problem behaviour. From this came the central notion of ‘exceptions’: however serious, fixed or chronic the problem there are always exceptions and these exceptions contain the seeds of the client's own solution. The founders of the Milwaukee team, de Shazer (1988, 1994) and Berg (Berg, 1991Berg & Miller, 1992), were also interested in determining the goals of therapy so that they and their clients would know when it was time to end! They found that the clearer a client was about his or her goals the more likely it was that they were achieved. Finding ways to elicit and describe future goals has since become a pillar of solution-focused brief therapy.

     Since its origins in the mid-1980s, solution-focused brief therapy has proved to be an effective intervention across the whole range of problem presentations. Early studies (de Shazer, 1988Miller et al, 1996) show similar outcomes irrespective of the presenting problem. In the UK alone, Lethem (1994) has written on her work with women and children, Hawkes et al (1998) and MacDonald (1994, 1997) on adult mental health, Rhodes & Ajmal (1995) on work in schools, Jacob (2001) on eating disorders, O'Connell (1998) on counselling and Sharry (2001) on group work.