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Solution Focused Therapy

Written by O'Connor Professional Group
Published on April 23, 2019

Do you have a hard time visualizing your future? Do you spend the majority of your time contemplating the mistakes of your past, seemingly reliving those moments in your head? While other forms of therapy such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help you understand your behavior in the past and present, Solution Focused Therapy (SFT) is designed to focus on the future. SFT was designed as a brief therapy modality that helps clients visualize their future, create specific goals, and focus solely on positive progress towards those goals. SFT operates under a set of assumptions that are designed to expect that clients have the strength already within them to make changes in their lives. The clinician in a solution-focused session assumes that if progress is not being made, it is more likely the clinicians’ responsibility than the clients’. A solution-focused clinician will see their role as a facilitator for achieving the client’s identified goals, not as the expert in the room. SFT might be the right modality for you if you are tired of negativity and are ready to make a positive change in your life.

SFT is most helpful for those who have deep insight about their mental health symptoms and are feeling stuck in a negative spiral. SFT helps clients to change their automatic negative thoughts by focusing only on the positive and practice looking for the positives between sessions. The goal is to change the neural pathways in the brain to become more automated to the positive and solutions, rather than the negative and more problems. Neuroplasticity is the brains ability to be changed through repeated environmental stimuli. For example, the more you work a muscle, the stronger it will become. If you focus on one muscle group and neglect another, the neglected muscle group will become weaker and will take more effort to engage in the future. Through SFT sessions, the neural pathways for positivity will strengthen and the pathways for negativity and problem-focused thinking will become weaker.

One component of SFT is visualizing the positive change that can be a part of a client’s future. In the very first session, the clinician will ask the miracle question. The miracle question is as follows,

Suppose tonight, after our meeting, you go home, go to bed, and fall asleep. While you are sleeping a miracle happens. The miracle is that he problems that brought you here today are solved. But you don’t know that the miracle has happened because you were sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, what will be some of the first things that you will notice that will be different to let you know this miracle has happened?

The miracle question is a visualization exercise to start engaging the client in positive change thinking. Whatever the client comes up with for the changes they notice in their miracle can be the first goals that the client works on. From there, the SFT journey will be a collaborative process of reinforcing positive and incremental changes, no matter how small, that the client begins to notice in their life.

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