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Solution Focused Brief Therapy

Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is a short-term goal-focused approach that is based on solution-building rather than problem-solving. It explores current resources and future hopes rather than focusing on present problems and past cause.

SFBT is an evidence-based approach that is founded on the idea that in order for the process of change to be successful, the most important focus is the identification of how the client wants things to be different and what it will take to happen, rather than a detailed exploration of the cause of the problem. It relies on the assumption that clients are motivated for change and that they already possess a number of the attributes and capabilities that will allow them to make those changes, they simply need the assistance to articulate and consolidate these.

Developing a clear goal and identifying how things will be when they are better, creates positive expectations and allows for solution-generation to occur. SFBT focuses on clients’ strengths and resources in order to establish and work towards their clearly identified goals.

Types of problems:

SFBT has been used successfully in a wide variety of presenting problems and client populations including depression, eating disorders, children and adolescents, drug and alcohol problems, adult mental health, relationship difficulties etc. It is an approach that often underpins (executive) coaching and aligns well with Motivational Interviewing and CBT.

Nature and Length of treatment:

The nature of the treatment is brief, with a typical length of intervention lasting between 4-6 sessions by itself but it is often implemented as an adjunct treatment with CBT and MI.


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De Shazer, S. (1985). Keys to solution in brief therapy. New York: Norton

De Shazer, S., Berg, I.K., Lipchik, E. (1986). Brief therapy: focused solution development. Family Process, 25, 207-221.

George, E., Iveson, C., & Ratner, H. (1999). Problem to Solution: Brief Therapy with Individuals and Families. London: BT Press

Gingerich W, Eisengart, S. (2000). Solution-focused brief therapy: a review of the outcome research.

Family Process, 39, 477-498

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Lindforss, L., & Magnusson, D. (1997). Solution-focused therapy in prison. Contemporary Family Therapy, 19(1), 89-103