What is solution-focused brief therapy?

As the name suggests, solution-focused brief therapy is a goal-oriented therapeutic technique, usually adopted for a limited amount of time. Solution-focused brief therapy works with the belief that if a person has a clear idea of where they want to get, the getting there is much more likely to happen. 

Rather than focusing on problems, weaknesses and limitations, solution-focused therapy emphasises strengths and possibilities for change. 

Solution-focused therapists will ask a series of carefully constructed questions. These questions will focus largely on the present and the future, with a predominant focus on a 'preferred future'. In this way, the therapist helps the client create a clear picture of their future self and life, which remains the motivation and direction for the length of the therapeutic journey. 

Solution-focused brief therapy is founded on the following principles:

  • Change is both constant and certain.
  • Emphasis on what is changeable and possible.
  • Clients must want to change.
  • Clients are the experts and outline their own goals.
  • Clients have resources and their own strengths to solve and overcome their problems.
  • Therapy is short-term.
  • Focus on the future - history is not essential.

Who benefits from solution-focused brief therapy?

A solution-focused environment is very reassuring and helpful for some people, especially those who are goal-oriented and who embrace change. The relatively small timescale required for solution-focused therapy can be attractive to those with modern, busy lifestyles. 

With it's emphasis on change and forward thinking, solution-focused brief therapy can be very effective in dealing with addiction, eating disorders and relationship problems

Relevant associations



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Last updated September 3 2015