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Solution-focused therapy is a brief treatment supported by approximately 80 scientific studies. The outcome research indicates it is an effective treatment for a variety of psychological problems. Solution-focused treatment is designed to last between three and five sessions, and has a success rate of about 60%, which is very high considering the very brief treatment duration. Compare this to traditional talk-therapy, which can last years, often with lower effectiveness rates.
The goal of solution-focused therapy is to empower clients by helping them envision future goals for themselves, and identify positive directions in their lives. A key tenet in solution-focused therapy is that causes of problems are often extremely complex, but usually their solutions do not need to be. By helping clients find positive direction and identify practical solutions to difficult problems, clients feel less helpless, hopeless, and more able to actively address difficulties head-on.
Several components differentiate solution-focused therapy from more traditional talk-therapy:
Present-focus: Rather than focus primarily on the past as a way of divining insight, current problems are the focus and target of treatment. It may very well be that current problems were triggered by events from the past, however, it is the events of the present that are maintaining the problems.
Emphasis on strengths, not weaknesses: Traditional talk therapy views change as a process in which an unhealthy individual treats their pathology to become healthier. Alternatively, solution-focused therapy recognizes that everyone has a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, it is people’s strengths that help them overcome problems. Solution-focused therapy helps people identify the strengths they’ve used to overcome problems in the past, and rally them to solve the challenges of today.
Goal oriented: The aim of solution-focused therapy is to help clients identify small, achievable steps toward their goals, and support people through completing these steps, one step at a time. By breaking up overwhelming tasks into smaller steps, people feel more empowered to take charge of their lives as they see the changes they wanted to make are achievable.