What is Solution-Focused Therapy?

4.4 min read|865 words|Categories: Treatment & Therapy|
solution focused therapy

No matter the individual challenges we face, life is not without its inevitable challenges. Even though difficulties can often arise randomly or without cause, solutions are usually deliberate. In fact, rising above life’s issues usually means recognizing problems for what they are and developing strategies to productively counter them.

That’s exactly what solution-focused therapy helps you accomplish: goal-oriented, evidence-based thinking that promotes change through focus on solutions, not problems. This isn’t to minimize the weight of any issues we face; rather, solution-focused therapy helps clients by encouraging them to focus on concrete, short-term changes to be made that can yield large dividends in how we think, feel and cope.

Especially if you find yourself wrestling with behavioral or mental health issues, solution-focused therapy can help you establish a plan to manage grief and loss, depression, anxiety, co-occurring disorders and more. First, solution-focused therapy helps you look to the future, to envision yourself once again fulfilling the healthy, happy lifestyle you once enjoyed, before outlining steps you can pursue to reach that point while managing challenges.

Solution-focused therapy goals

Solution-focused therapy can be used alongside other treatment modalities, addressing issues like child behavioral problems, abuse, family dysfunction and relationship problems, as well as common, everyday stressors. Solution-focused therapy for couples, families or individuals can aid in actualizing relationship and family goals.

Therapists or psychiatrists trained to practice solution-focused therapy look to minimize the time a patient spends in therapy by focusing on what the patient can do, rather than what they can’t. They help you see all of the aspects of your life you still govern, emphasizing your capacity for change over any aspects of life beyond your control. Guiding the patient to work toward solutions and insight, therapists utilize solution-focused techniques while helping the individual define goals and establish a realistic plan for the future.

For example, in addressing specific problems, therapists find individual instances and periods of time in the patient’s life where that problem was managed well, and then break down down how the patient can mimic that action plan in future scenarios. 

Solution-focused therapy operates under the assumption that change is possible. In helping clients find resources and strength to pursue solutions to their problems, therapists help to put patients in control of their own futures.

Solution-focused interventions

Solution-focused therapists encourage their patients through difficulties, and take the time to celebrate success while employing several solution-focused techniques.

Miracle question: Patients are asked to imagine that a miracle occurred, and their problems are no longer affecting their lives. What does that look like? How is their life better or different? By imagining this scenario, patients can visualize a desired future. With the end goal in mind, they can start to build a path forward and believe in the possibility of achieving their desired future. If an individual has difficulty in looking that far ahead, the therapist asks the patient to share their “best hopes” for the future; more focused questions like “What is your best hope for today?” or “What is a good indicator that shows you are progressing?” help the client restore control over their daily output.

Coping question: This type of question is meant to reveal to the patient how strong and resilient they are. The individual is asked to think about how they fulfill obligations and how they persevere despite difficulties that arise.

Exception question: With an exception question, the therapist asks the individual to think of times when their problems were not able to affect them, asking such questions as “When are you happiest?” This keeps the patient focused on the positive and what they’ve already done to achieve those good things in their lives. 

Scaling question: Patients are asked to rank their problems on a scale of 0 to 10, taking into consideration how the problem is affecting them, how confident they are that change can happen and how they think they are progressing. This question helps gauge an individual’s confidence and motivation, giving the therapist guiding posts for future sessions. 

Patients are also asked to evaluate their own progress at the end of each session, going back over their goals with the therapist, re-evaluating the steady steps they’ve already taken and remaining positive about overcoming problems in the future.

How solution-focused therapy can change your life for the better

Solution-focused therapy can provide individual excellent insight into how your life can improve, simply by taking advantage of the skills and opportunities available to you. Solution-focused therapy techniques are designed to keep therapy short-term and results-oriented, so that you can start living life to the fullest as quickly as possible. Patients and therapists decide together how long sessions should last and how long therapy should continue. When clients approach each session with the desire for a better future, goals can be set, progress can be made and change can be actualized.

We encourage you to take steps toward your ideal future today; it’s as easy as scheduling your first solutions-focused therapy session through Pyramid Online Counseling. Browse counselor profiles, choose the right therapist for you and begin your therapy journey on your own time, in your own home.

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