Skills in Solution Focused Brief: Counselling & Psychotherapy
Publication Year: 2011
As part of the bestselling SAGE Skills in Counseling & Psychotherapy series, this book is one of the first to focus specifically on Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) skills and practice. Aimed at those new to the approach and as a refresher to those that have started using SFBT, it covers the key techniques and interventions. Structured step-by-step along the lines of an actual therapy session, the book can be dipped into or read cover-to-cover. It covers assumptions, expectations and ways of working, the role of the Solution Focused Brief Therapist, The Miracle Question, scaling, tasks, ending sessions and closures.Supported by case studies, therapeutic dialogue, hints and tips, exercises and points for reflection, the book is an ideal companion for any counseling, health or social care trainee who ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: SFBT: Skills, Assumptions and Ways of Working
- Chapter 3: Openings in SFBT and the Role of the Therapist
- Chapter 4: Pre-Session Change, Exceptions and Coping Questions
- Chapter 5: The Use of Scales in SFBT
- Chapter 6: Co-Creating Preferred Futures
- Chapter 7: End of Sessions, Tasks and Feedback
- Chapter 8: Subsequent Sessions and Closures in SFBT
- Chapter 9: What Next?
About the Series[Page ii]
Skills in Counselling & Psychotherapy is a series of practical guides for trainees and practitioners. Each book takes one of the main approaches to therapeutic work and describes the core skills and techniques used within that approach.
Topics covered include
- how to establish and develop the therapeutic relationship
- how to help the client change
- how to assess the suitability of the approach for the client.
This is the first series of books to look at skills specific to the different theoretical approaches, making it ideal for use on a range of courses which prepare the trainees to work directly with clients.
Books in the series:
Skills in Transactional Analysis Counselling & Psychotherapy
Skills in Person-Centred Counselling & Psychotherapy
Skills in Cognitive-Behavioural Counselling & Psychotherapy
Skills in Rational Emotive Behaviour Counselling & Psychotherapy
Skills in Psychodynamic Counselling & Psychotherapy
Skills in Gestalt Counselling & Psychotherapy, Second Edition
Phil Joyce & Charlotte Sills
Skills in Existential Counselling & Psychotherapy
Emmy van Deurzen & Martin Adams
© Paul Hanton 2011
First published 2011
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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About the Author
I am grateful to BRIEF for setting me on the Solution Focused path when I attended my first short course at what was The Brief Therapy Practice back in 1993 (or it may have been 1994).
I am indebted to Bill O'Connell, who believed in me enough to give me a place on the first MA in Solution Focused Brief Therapy in 2000, and in fact, to all the participants on that course who really gave me the freedom and confidence to start practising SFBT in more innovative and ‘me’ ways. Bill has always been a voice of balance and reason, one of the least dogmatic and client-centred therapists that I have met.
My wife Sue, my eldest son Christoph and my youngest son Kiyoshi have been inspirational in so many ways, not least reminding me that the world in which I work is just that, work; there is a life outside the workplace and the therapy room, something I believe in for the people I work with, but sometimes forget myself.
Last but not least, I'd like to acknowledge all the people who practise SFBT and Solution Focused Approaches in innovative and creative ways who have inspired me. There really are too many to list here and I do not want to ‘miss’ anyone out. I will have commented or thanked you outside this book and will probably do so again. This book is written by me, but owned by everyone who has contributed over the years in their own ways to my knowledge and learning.[Page x]
Praise for the Book[Page xi]
‘Paul brings to the world of counselling and psychotherapy a fresh exposition of the solution-focused approach. Rich descriptions of the key solution-focused skills, illustrated with examples from Paul's extensive experience of practice, offer the reader many opportunities to extend their own practice repertoire. Drawing on his substantial training experience Paul brings the reader into a learning space, inviting you to engage with his ideas, reflect on how you might become more solution-focused in your work, and highlighting where to go next for further reading.’
John Wheeler MA, UKCP Registered Systemic Psychotherapist, independent solution-focused practitioner, trainer and supervisor (http://www.johnwheeler.co.uk)
‘Paul is an experienced, skilled and innovative practitioner who has worked with a wide range of clients, some of them particularly challenging. This book introduces readers in a practical and accessible way to the nuts and bolts of how to practice in a Solution Focused way. I recommend it to newcomers to the approach and to others who wish to renew their practice.’
Bill O'Connell, Director of Focus on Solutions
‘Written by one of the leading practitioners of solution-focused psychotherapy in the UK; this is a highly personal, and highly accessible introduction to contemporary skills in solution focused practice. It clearly states what it is about (and equally, what it's not about), and takes the reader, in true solution-focused style, on a series of small steps towards a clearly described, and well defined, conclusion. It makes use of clear outcomes and recaps in each chapter, clearly signposting for the reader the skills being discussed, and the relevance of them to practice. I was engaged, from the first page, by the level of detail with which this book is written, and the generosity of experience shared by the author. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to explore, or re-explore, the skills of solution focused brief counselling and psychotherapy.’
Steve Smith, Lecturer in Mental Health, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen[Page xii]
Appendix 1: Photocopiable Resources[Page 124]
These resources are available to download from http://www.sagepub.co.uk/Hanton
This first resource is something that I devised (and have honed) as a guide/prompt for those relatively new to the SFBT approach.PC Resource 1: First SFBT Meeting
Solution Focused Brief Therapy
Best hopes for coming here?
Strengths, skills, interests (problem-free talk):[Page 125]
Support, family, friends, etc.:
If this work was successful how would you and the client know?
Exceptions (to the problem):
What has made these exceptions more likely to happen?
Scale point after the ‘wonderful’ thing has happened:
Scale point today: How come? What gets you there on the scale?[Page 126]
What would be happening that tells you that you have moved up the scale?
What would others notice?
Usefulness of meeting (scale):
What would make the next meeting even more useful?[Page 127]PC Resource 2: Current/Future Island
I first came across this many years ago when working with young people in the drug and alcohol field. A guy called Jamie Satterthwaite introduced me to the basic concept, and I have since adapted and honed it.
The object of this intervention is to give people a future focus in a visual way. Often people are trying to ‘get away’ from the ‘problems’ without thinking too much about the way the future will look.
So, the picture below is copied, either as it is or on a sheet of flip chart paper. The client fills in the entire current island with words that are significant to portray their current life, such as drinking, anger, family hassle, no money, etc. The client also puts on the current island things that are going OK. At this point nothing is written on the future island.
The therapist suggests that there is a body of water between the current island and the future island and asks the client to say what might be on the future island that would encourage them to move/swim towards it, what they might take with them from the current island, and what they might leave behind. It should be recognized by the therapist and the client that even though the current island has ‘problems’, it is also familiar, whereas it can seem difficult to swim to the future island if we do not know what is on the other shore to meet us. The temptation is for people to ‘stay’ on the current island with what they know whereas we want to encourage them to move forward. We could get them to scale the current and future islands.Figure App.1 Current and future islands[Page 128]PC Resource 3: Who and How?
This is a short exercise for people to use when they are trying to find solutions and it seems very difficult to do so alone. Ask the client to fill out the sheet below and use this to explore further.Who and how?
Please answer the questions below. The therapist/worker will then discuss your answers with you.
Q1. Who is important in my life?
Q2. If I were to ask any of the above people to help me to get to where I want to be with my current issue, who would I ask?
Q3. How could they help me (just being there, help me with specific tasks, notice my progress, etc.)?
Q4. Who is the first person I am going to ask to help me? What am I going to ask them to do that is helpful?
Appendix 2: Useful Booklist and Websites[Page 129]Booklist
There are literally thousands of papers and books on SF therapy/approaches now, and I would not suggest that you try to read them all. Several books and papers are referenced throughout the previous chapters. Some are weighty academic tomes and some, like this book, are very specifically geared towards an area of interest. Choose wisely or you will never lift your head from paper. My personal favourites are:
Berg, I. K., & Miller, S. D. (1992). Working with the problem drinker: a solution focused approach. New York: W. W. Norton.
This book has been invaluable in my work with drug and alcohol users and was (and is) influential in illustrating the emerging thoughts of Berg and her colleagues at a time when SFBT was less than a decade old.
George, E., Iveson, C., & Ratner, H. (1999). Problem to solution (2nd Edn.). London: BT Press.
BRIEF really helped SF ways of working take off in the UK and this is an excellent introduction to Solution Focused Therapy, and one that I read often when I need to be refreshed.
Lipchik, E. (2002). Beyond technique in solution-focused therapy. New York: Guilford Press.
Eve Lipchik was one of the original Milwaukee founders of SFBT, along with Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg and others. This book is a unique departure from the minimalist approach that SF often takes and looks at theory and emotions. I can't say that I agree with everything in this book, but I admire the alternative approach and the ‘freshness’ of it.
Nelson, T. S. (Ed.) (2010). Doing something different: solution-focused brief therapy practice. New York: Routledge.[Page 130]
This book has already become a firm favourite for two reasons. First, the sheer breadth of examples of practice is truly stunning, and it includes the thoughts of a wide range of SFBT practitioners. Secondly, there are 76 chapters in 300 pages, so it is very much a ‘dip in’ book. It is not a dry academic text, but rather a book full of amusing anecdotes, thought-provoking moments, and a chance to really see how SFBT is not simply following a script.
O'Connell, B. (1998). Solution-focused therapy. London: Sage.
Bill O'Connell has a way of writing that simplifies often complex things. This book is a good read and covers a broad range of areas.
O'Connell, B., & Palmer, S. (Eds.) (2003). Handbook of solution-focused therapy. London: Sage.
A UK handbook, with chapters from many of the ‘leading lights’ in their respective SF fields, it covers group work, research, social work, and much more. This book contains easy-to-read chapters following similar formats.
Zeig, J. K., & Munion, W. M. (1999). Milton H. Erickson. London: Sage.
Although not strictly a solution focused book, it gives a great overview of the man who, in my opinion, did so much to influence the formation of solution focused ways of working, and the thinking of Steve de Shazer. It is a cracking read.Websites
Most of the people reading this book will probably have access to the internet. There are thousands of sites and articles dedicated to SFBT, but here are a few that you might find useful. Many of the websites listed here are just a starting point, with links to other sites.
My website, which, of course, I will list. I have useful links to other SFBT websites, and I often change the downloads on the site for others to use.
The website of the United Kingdom Association for Solution Focused Practice (UKASFP). Not purely therapy, but a website reflecting the full breadth of SF practitioners in the UK, from social workers, to teachers, to business coaches.
The website of the free journal of UKASFP. This journal is read worldwide and the website holds current and past copies. It is also a portal for the Solution Focused Research Review (SFRR), a peer-reviewed journal of SF research.
BRIEF almost need no introduction. This is their website. While it lists courses and conferences, it also has plenty of useful SF information and tips.[Page 131]
The European Brief Therapy Association website. It has great pages on current and past SFBT research, and much more besides.
The website of the North American Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association (NASFBTA). It is a great place to start if you are new to SFBT in the USA or Canada.
Professor Gingerich has pages on his website dedicated to SFBT research and he helpfully categorizes them as strong, moderate or weak controlled studies. He is also very affable and happy to send any further information when contacted.
Dr Alasdair Macdonald is a complete powerhouse of knowledge of SFBT and if you ever want to know anything about any research undertaken in SF, he is your man and this is the website to consult. Alasdair has been involved with the EBTA and the UKASFP since their inceptions.
This is the website of Harry Korman and Jocelyne Lopez-Korman. Harry is the founder of the International SFBT message list. He has written many useful articles and has contributed to numerous publications, some of which are available on his website.
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