Depression, Bipolar & Grief Counselling Blog

SFBT and the small things

One of the fascinating aspects of a growing therapeutic model is what happens on the outside edges.

BRIEF is a very successful Solution-Focused therapy practice in London, England which has, for many years, sought ever-refined ways of working with clients to bring about solutions that the client owns and believes in. BRIEF’s belief in the importance of the ‘outcome’ as not just ‘goal’ but of ‘journey’ to ownership, is a fundamental differentiator with their clients, as is their belief in the importance of ’small’ outcomes leading to ‘larger’ change. 

This focus on the ‘outcome’ can be powerful when the focus is directed to the small things in a client’s life. For instance, a young mother struggling with serious and chronic eating difficulties described her experience of a single session of Solutions-Focused therapy and clearly demonstrates that the ‘small’ is also the ‘large’:

I have been through every sort of therapy since I was 14, and though this sounded different, I wasn’t really hopeful. When I was asked about a miracle my heart sank because I knew a miracle wasn’t going to happen, but when I started answering the questions, I felt a glimmer of real hope because my answers were things I could easily do. So, I set a sort of test. Every time I answered a question, I asked myself, “Can you do that?” If the answer was ‘yes’ I’d carry on but once I said ‘no’ I would know it wasn’t going to work for me. Because all my answers were ‘yes’ I knew for the first time that it was possible to overcome anorexia; I’m not sure that I’ll manage that, but now I know it’s possible I’m going to give it my best shot!

Iveson, 2019, p.23

Solution-Focused therapy can be a powerful tool to bring about desired change in one’s life. The Solution-Focused therapist always works from the perspective that the client is the expert in their own life, that they know what will and won’t work. So the therapist doesn’t proscribe tactics and give ‘do this and you will achieve that’ guidance. Instead, the SF therapist trusts that the client themselves, with the proper questioning, will uncover their own solution. It is this trust in the client that is key to working with a SF therapist. The SF therapist does not ‘play God’ with their clients’ lives. 

As Iveson asks, ‘would you prefer a therapist to guide you or to trust you?’

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Iveson, C. (2019). Leaving no footprints. Journal of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Volume 3, Number 1 – 2019, 17-26.

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