Solution Focused Therapy

Psychological .

Solution Focused Therapy

What is Solution Focused Therapy?

Solution Focused Therapy is an approach to psychotherapy which is based on solution-building rather than problem-solving. This method takes the approach that you know what you need to do to improve your own life and, with the appropriate coaching and questioning, are capable of finding the best solutions.

How does Solution Focused Therapies work?

Solution focused brief therapy doesn’t require a deep dive into your childhood and the ways in which your past has influenced your present. It predominantly explores current resources and future hopes.

In family therapy, a therapist may work with the family as a group and sometimes with subgroups or individuals. Family therapists are very interested in the family’s goals and strengths. They see the family as key to a child’s recovery from mental health, substance use, and behavioural problems..

What can Solution-Focused Therapy help with?

SFBT has been successfully applied when working with individual, couples, and families. The problems it can address are wide-ranging, from the normal stressors of life to high-impact life events. For example, Family therapy puts emphasis on the importance of communication and understanding. In therapy, families explore and identify positive patterns and behaviours, and those which may contribute to distress

 SFT allows for a goal-oriented focus to problem-solving by using the following incentives:

  • Change is constant and certain
  • Emphasis should be on what is changeable and possible
  • Clients must want to change
  • Clients are the experts in therapy and must develop their own goals
  • Clients already have the resources and strengths to solve their problems
  • Therapy is short-term
  • The focus must be on the future as opposed to a your history.

SFBT therapists aim to bring out the skills, strengths, and abilities that clients already possess rather than attempting to build new competencies from scratch.

How many sessions would I need?

This would discussed at assessment if this therapy was found suitable for you. Therapists will want to develop a treatment plan with you. Here is an example of what to expect from a treatment plan during assessment:

Example Solution Focused Based Therapy Treatment Plan

A typical treatment plan in SFBT will include several factors relevant to the treatment, including:

The reason for referral, or the problem the you are experiencing that brought you to treatment;

A diagnosis (if you have any diagnosed condition/s)

List of medications taken (if you take any);

Any current symptoms if you have any;

Support for the you and any other people involved (family, friends, other mental health professionals, etc.);

Modality or treatment type;

Frequency of treatment;

What goals and objectives you want to achieve by attending therapy

Measurement criteria for progress on goals;

What strengths you may have. 

Any Barriers you may experience towards progress.

Clinical Case Study – Family Therapy (a short exert)

Amy is a 15-year-old who was referred by a social worker to be assessed for her suitability for family therapy. The referral noted the Amy’s family have concerns regarding Amy’s increase in anti-social related behaviour and an increase in outbreaks of physical violence aimed predominantly towards her mother Jo and her half-siblings Alfie and Ethan. There has been previous involvement from CAMHS who have ruled out a mental health diagnosis as an explanation for her behaviour.

Amy’s mother does not work and is a full time parent to her three children Amy (15), Alfie (9) and Ethan (4) whereas Richard works full time which includes long hours.

The family wanted to engage in therapy to help work through their issues and help address Amy’s behaviour.

Assessment and Treatment

Each family member was given the opportunity to talk with the therapist separately in order to discuss what they believed the issues may be before working together.

The therapist spoke with Amy and with Jo and Richard.

The therapist completed a genogram with the family to examine the family’s dynamics.

Here is an example of a genogram.

The genogram example used in the assessment was useful to ascertain important relationships which exist within Amy’s family system.

This activity was followed up by the use Family Sculpting activity (Duhl et al., 1973). As Amy has expressed that she does not belong in the family home, it was important to invite her to be the first ‘sculpt director’ in this activity and physically arrange the family members where she believes they best fit in the family picture.

Family members had the opportunity to discuss their positioning and invited to move themselves to where they feel more comfortable in the family system (Vossler, 2010). This helped me as a therapist, assess the family situation(s) and problem(s) based on what the family members say, their beliefs and based on their positioning.

Amy placed herself away from all other family members which indicated that a) Amy does not feel close to them and b) Amy feels that the other family members distance themselves from her.

An in-depth sequence analysis using circular questioning gave the opportunity to ask family members triadic questions such as:

“Amy, how do you think your mother and Richard feel when you hit her, Ethan and Alfie?”

“Jo, how do you think Amy feels when you shout at her?”

“Richard, how do you think Jo feels when you challenge her parenting methods?

An example of some things to explore with the family:

Jo and Richard could address their parental and marital issues impacting by the problems existing within the family system due to differing opinions on parental interventions.

It may be appropriate to explore attachment based family therapy (Diamond, Diamond and Levy, 21014 cited in Vossler et al., 2017) and address some of the issues regarding the quality of early relationships between Amy and Jo. Jo may benefit from completing an Adult Attachment Interview (AAI, Hesse, 2008 cited in Haley, 2017) to explore Jo’s own experience of attachment with her parents.

The interaction between Amy and her younger brothers. This would need further exploration and may require Alfie and Ethan to be present during this session. This could prove to be emotionally difficult for Alfie and Ethan due to Amy’s physical aggression towards them, especially if feel scared, so this may require Jo and Richard to also be present.


Haley, M.(2017) ‘Attachment-Based Approaches’ in Vossler, A., Havard, C., Pike, G., Barker, M. and Raabe, B.(eds) (2017) Mad or Bad: A Critical Approach to Forensic Psychology, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 194.

Vossler, A. (2010) ‘Systemic approaches’, in Barker, M., Vossler, A. and Langdridge, D. (eds) Understanding Counselling and Psychotherapy, London, Sage, pp. 191–210.

Vossler, A., Squires, B. and Bingham, C. (2017) ‘Systemic Approaches’ in Vossler, A., Havard, C., Pike, G., Barker, M. and Raabe, B.(eds) (2017) Mad or Bad: A Critical Approach to Forensic Psychology, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 224 – 236.

If you would like to know more about how My Family Psychologist can help, call us on 07801 079555 or email

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