What is Solution-Focused Couples Therapy, and what does it look like?
In today’s blog, we are shifting our focus to exploring solution focused therapy (SFT) . Some popular advocates for this type of a therapeutic model are Insoo Kim Berg and Steve De Shazer who created the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee. The main breakdown of SFT is that it is based on solution-building rather than problem-solving.
Before we dive in, it is important to understand SFT assumptions. It strongly emphasizes change is constant, certain, and possible. This model focuses on the future which is why the client’s history and past default solution patterns is not the most key part of this type of therapy. They also believe that the client’s are the experts in therapy sessions because they need to focus on developing their own goals. SFT supports the idea that clients have the resources and strengths to resolve their problems, and therapists are there to help guide them through the process.
While doing SFT (it usually is short term), the therapist will help their client create a solution-based plan with lots of goal setting and how to properly incorporate these solutions into their life gradually. A general guideline of how the process works is that the client will see the therapist and state the problem that brought them there, then they’ll dive into things like diagnosis, and list any medications (if any). The therapist will evaluate symptoms, help the client build a supportive community around them (friend’s, families, partner(s) which will lead them to prepare for the grunt work such as goals and objectives, progress on goals, client’s strengths, and figuring out barriers to progress.
This therapy model depends a lot on the client’s own motivation and the therapeutic alliance (the therapist-client relationship). By having a good trust bond with your therapist while also using the client’s motivation, this can determine the success of the SFT. These go hand in hand and are what drives SBT. This is foundational to many other therapy models. SFT therapists believe the clients struggling have conditioned thought patterns, coping strategies, and default solution patterns that can be very difficult to break through especially if it is something you’re used to doing. These unhealthy habits and the client’s usual “coping with problems” strategies affect a person’s overall decision making and quality of life.
This is why SFT is committed to not focusing only on the problems because it is not an effective way of solving them. Instead, SFT targets the client’s default solution patterns, evaluates the efficacy of them, and then modifies/replaces them with better problem-solving approaches that work for them!
How does SFT help treat anxiety, depression, trauma and relationship issues?
SFT is a very broad model that is beneficial for all aspects of a person’s life, whether it is depression, relationship problems, or low self-esteem! SFT strives to help clients reprogram their thinking (specifically unhelpful thinking styles) to break out of old ineffective habits that go against their goals and instead redevelop/revamp their habits to better align with their long-term goals!
For example, if a couple is struggling to open up to each other, SFT would focus on finding the clients’ internal resources, exploring their personal strengths and build on that to better improve their communication, their patience, and empathy – all key emotional aspects of a relationship(s). SFT does not magnify the problem and dissects it, instead it is more interested in the direction the couple wants to go!
To learn more about SFT, here are some other resources you can explore:
As always, if you find yourself in need of more personalized supports, feel free to reach out to our office today and set up your first appointment!