Solution Focused Therapy (SFT)

Developed by De Shazer and Berg in 2007

Application areas: For problems which require a brief intervention, to find new coping skills, to do things differently and to discover one’s own strengths.  

Founded upon Wittgensteinian philosophy and social constructionist principles, therapy aims at what clients long to achieve, without exploring the history or origin of problems. It is goal directed and collaborative. The therapeutic relationship is based on empathy and understanding.

Causes of problems are recognized as complex, yet solutions could be simple, according to De Shazer. The SFT therapist primarily uses questions and compliments as interventions. Through reflection of the client’s past experiences, the therapist is able to bring his or her established strengths and coping mechanisms to attention. Their competencies are highlighted through noticing any behaviour that has facilitated progress in their lives, which may include their own capabilities, resources and positive qualities. There is a belief in the client’s own potential, which has helped them in an ongoing, constant way until present. These qualities are then encouraged in view of their preferred visions of themselves in the future. They are supported in the process to repeat previous strategies to fulfil their future preferences.

The practice of SFT (or SFBT) could be summarized in the acronym MECSTAT. This includes Miracle questions, Exception Questions, Coping Questions, Scaling Questions, Time-Out, Accolades and Task. 

• Miracle Questions: “How would the future be different when the problem is no longer present?” or “What would the first signs be that the miracle occurred?”
• Exception Questions: “Were there times that were different, or that you did things differently?”
• Coping Questions: Eliciting resources and strengths, i.e. “How did you do that?”
• Scaling Questions: Measuring and tracking, “What is the worst/best time it’s been?”

Sometimes the therapist would approach topics which are not problem related, where the client can relax and discuss leisure activities. In the process values, beliefs and strengths are often discovered, which could be incorporated into their preferred future visions.

The contact person for SFT in SA is Dr Jacqui Von Cziffra-Bergs. *

Resource: Wikipedia  

Beth Cooper Howell Proof reader/copy editor

Contributions by
Prof David Edwards
Dr Linda Blokland
Matthew Watkin
Edgar Tyrone
Bertus Swanepoel
Dr Shane Pienaar-Du Bruyn