Understanding the Core Principles of Solution-Focused Therapy


Solution-focused therapy is a short-term approach that emphasizes the client’s strengths and resources rather than their symptoms or problems. This goal-oriented cognitive therapy is known for its pragmatic, hope-friendly perspective.

Practitioners often ask “miracle questions,” prompting clients to imagine their life without the problem they brought into the session. This helps to open the door for future possibilities.


Focus on the Present

Being fully aware of the present moment can feel like a daunting task. Ruminating about the past and worrying about the future is human nature. Still, when these thoughts are constant, they can cause anxiety, stress, unhappiness and disconnection from oneself.

SFBT encourages clients to look at their life objectively, acknowledging that change is inevitable and possible. It also focuses on the client’s strengths and resources, believing they can find solutions.

Additionally, therapists use techniques such as miracle questions to prompt people to think outside the box and challenge their perspectives on their challenges. For example, a therapist might ask the client to consider how their daily routine and overall lifestyle would be without their major roadblocks in place. The goal is to help them realize that their problems are temporary and that they have other things that bring them joy.

Focus on the Future

Solution-focused therapy Seattle shifts the focus away from problems and onto solutions. It helps clients envision their desired future and work together to create a plan that will get them there. This goal-oriented cognitive approach can be used alongside other treatment modalities and addresses behavioral problems, child behavioral issues, family dysfunction, and relationship difficulties.

Therapists and clients collaboratively construct solutions that fit the client’s situation using techniques such as the miracle question, scaling questions, and exception-seeking. The client’s current circumstances are considered during this process, and their resources and strengths are identified to ensure a practical and satisfying solution.

A central principle of solution-focused therapy is that the client creates their reality. This perspective, combined with the focus on solutions rather than problems, fosters a sense of hope and motivation for change in the client. This is what makes it so effective and different from traditional psychotherapy.

Focus on the Client’s Strengths

While it is important to help clients improve their weaknesses, therapists should also work with them to identify and use their strengths. These qualities or behaviors have often helped them overcome difficult situations. They may also be qualities or skills that have helped them maintain a good relationship or a positive quality of life.

One method to help clients focus on their strengths is asking them what they are good at and why. This focuses on core strengths rather than specific skill sets like playing basketball, but it can be useful to encourage the client to identify the characteristics that make them successful.

Other techniques include asking survival and exception questions, which ask people to think of times when they could overcome problems. Having them explore these experiences can give them clues to effective solutions and help them feel hopeful about overcoming their current situation.

Focus on Solutions

Unlike traditional therapy centered around the problems that bring you to therapy, solution-focused therapy helps clients build solutions. As such, it’s a great choice for people looking to make positive life changes.

During sessions, therapists will ask questions that help them understand the person’s inner strengths and resources they might not have recognized before. They also encourage clients to celebrate small achievements and successes, such as reaching an agreed-upon goal or overcoming a roadblock. They may also use techniques like “scaling” to encourage the client to rate how serious their problem is on a scale of one to ten.

Another way therapists help clients identify potential solutions is by asking them to consider what life would be like without their problem, using an approach known as “miracle questions.” The idea behind miracle questions is to give the client space to think outside the box and develop creative strategies for their problem.

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