Book your FREE 15-minute consultation today!

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT is based upon the view that individuals have their own vision of how they would like their lives to be, and what would be different in their preferred vision of the future. The client is encouraged to create and describe their vision of a desired future and then to think about how they might strengthen their current abilities in order to reach the desired outcomes.

The therapist guides the client in identifying what works well for them now, or what has worked in the past for similar challenges. At times, new approaches to problems are encouraged as a way to experiment with possible responses to new challenging circumstances.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is another label for the same therapy method and is sometimes used to emphasize the very brief nature of this approach. As noted earlier, the process is expected to require six to eight sessions, as opposed to most models of psychotherapy, which often require at least five months of weekly sessions.

Techniques Used in Solution-Focused Therapy

A variety of techniques are used in SFT in order to identify client strengths, determine what worked for the person in the past, and encourage finding solutions to the current problems. These techniques can be grouped as coping questions, scaling questions, the “miracle question,” and the consultation break.

Coping Questions

Coping questions include several different forms of questions, all directed at identifying personal strengths and which types of coping behaviors have worked in the past for that particular client. One form of coping question is called “looking for exceptions” to the current situation. The client may be asked, “What was different in your past at a time when this wasn’t a problem?”

A very similar technique is to ask, “How did you cope in the past?” or, “What has worked for you before, when faced with a similar situation?” Previous solutions might be effective again, in spite of different circumstances. A client might be encouraged to experiment with using an approach that worked in the past, even though the current situation is not exactly the same.

SFT therapists use compliments to identify a client’s strengths which were demonstrated by how they coped during difficult times in the past. For example, “That must have been very difficult. How did you manage that?” or, “How did you keep that situation from getting worse?” The therapist might directly comment on the client’s courage or resiliency that was demonstrated by their past coping behaviors.

Scaling Questions

Scaling questions are sometimes used to help the client monitor their own progress, describe their level of hopefulness, or evaluate their situation as a more objective person might. For example, a client in a couples’ session may be asked, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how hopeful are you that this relationship can improve?” Scaling questions are also very useful for teenage clients who may have more difficulty describing their feelings or expressing their level of concern in more emotional terms.

The Miracle Question

The miracle question is a specific question that is used to identify the first, simple, realistic steps toward a solution that could be taken immediately by the client. The question is intentionally asked in a long drawn-out manner in order to engage the client’s more relaxed problem-solving state of mind.

To state it simply, the technique involves asking the client to imagine that their problem is miraculously solved overnight. How will they know that the problem is solved? “How would you feel? What would you think? What would you do that’s different from what you did today?” The assumption is that even one simple desirable change in behavior or attitude often leads to further desirable changes.

Consultation Break

A common technique in SFT is to take a break during the second half of each session and review what has been discussed so far. Shortly before the break, the client is asked if there is any further information that they would like to provide. During the break, they are left alone for a few minutes to reflect on what was already said. Upon returning, the therapist offers an encouraging and therapeutic message about the client’s ability to accomplish their goal.

Think we might be a good fit? Contact us for a free consultation today to learn more about how we can help. Offering online counseling. Learn more about our HIPAA-compliant Telehealth therapy. It's time you move forward and CREATE the happiest healthiest you! Please reach out soon or book a consultation now!


Need assistance with your mental health? Our team of experienced therapists are here to help. Fill out the form below and we'll contact you within 24 hours.

Get in Touch

Follow Us