Solution Focused Brief Therapy Today essay

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For example, Jones and Charlton note that it is possible to develop appropriate problem-solving techniques in the following four major areas:

1. Identifying the goal which is appropriate and achievable;

2. Identifying exceptions to the usual pattern of problems;

3. Measuring the student's progress towards achieving the goal; and,

4. Providing useful and positive feedback.

Finally, SFBT can be used either as a "stand-alone" counseling approach or in tandem with other techniques. For example, Linton (2005) emphasizes that SFBT ". . . can operate as a stand alone approach or in conjunction with traditional models of treatment. Solution-focused mental health counselors do not view SFBT and traditional models of treatment as incompatible. Collaborating with clients to create counseling goals, be they directed towards abstinence, self-help group attendance, changes in thinking errors, or some other goal of the client's choosing, selves to enhance motivation to change" (p. 298). Likewise, Jones and Charlton also note that, "Brief therapy has some features in common with cognitive therapy techniques such as problem-solving skills training. Future developments in this area may see combinations of such therapeutic inputs" (p. 74).

One of the fundamental limitations of SFBT, though, is a paucity of timely and relevant studies concerning its efficacy in school counseling settings. According to Lewis and Osborn (2004), at the time of writing, two studies reporting favorable outcomes (e.g., length of treatment, and achievement and maintenance of client goals) of SFBT have frequently been cited in the SFBT literature; however, these two studies were based on methodology described by these authors as "poorly developed," and remain unpublished. As a result, assertions concerning the utility and efficacy of SFBT remain strictly theoretical and have not been subjected to rigorous empirical analysis (Lewis & Osborn, p. 38).

Reflection including Accommodations, Interventions and/or Referrals

The accommodations that result from the application of the SFBT counseling method can range from relatively simple changes in students' lives or they may be much more complicated (Sexton et al., 2003). By focusing on what works ("and doing more of it"), though, the SFBT approach appears to hold some special significance for counselors who may otherwise be at a loss to formulate effective counseling techniques for students who are experiencing comparable types of problems in their lives. Although every individual is unique, of course, many adolescents tend to encounter many of the same challenges during this turbulent period in their lives that are amenable to the SFBT step-by-step approach.

Notwithstanding the "brief" aspects inherent in the SFBT approach, the sooner such troubled youngsters are able to complete an SFBT intervention, the more likely the accommodations that will be required to effect meaningful change will remain simple rather than complicated. There are also a number of aspects of SFBT that create opportunities for counselors to learn what it troubling young people and identify appropriate ways to overcome these issues.


The research showed that school counselors at all levels are faced with some monumental challenges when it comes to identifying counseling regimens that produce meaningful change in their young clientele. One counseling approach that has demonstrated some significant promise in this environment is Solution Focused Brief Therapy which emphasizes understanding the problems involved from the young persons' perspective and formulating treatment protocols that are focused on breaking the vicious cycle of behavior patterns that contribute to problem areas and identifying alternative behaviors that can make things better. The three guiding principles of SFBT (i.e., "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" et al.) would be relevant to any counseling regimen, but the step-by-step process outlined for the administration of the SFBT method provide especially valuable guidance for counselors seeking ways to engage their young clientele and determine what the real problems facing them are while maintaining a therapeutic relationship. In the final analysis, the Solution Focused Brief Therapy approach represents a valuable tool in any school counselors' repertoire, particularly since the research also showed that it can be used either as a stand-alone approach or in conjunction with other counseling methods with established effectiveness.


de Shazer, S. (1979, Summer). Brief therapy with families. American Journal of Family

Therapy, 7(2).

de Shazer, S. (1986). An indirect approach to brief therapy (Family Therapy Collections, Vol.

19, pp 48-55, Aspen Systems). Milwaukee, WI: Brief Family Therapy Center.

de Shazer, S. (1988). Clues: Investigating solutions in brief therapy. New York: W.W. Norton.

Fernando, D.M. (2007). Existential theory and solution-focused strategies: Integration and application. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 29(3), 226-227.

Jones, K. & Charlton, T. (1999). Overcoming learning and behavior difficulties: Partnership with pupils. New York: Routledge.

Lewis, T.F. & Osborn, C.J. (2004). Solution-focused counseling and motivational interviewing:

A consideration of confluence. Journal of Counseling and…[continue]

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