Solution-Focused Brief Therapy & Addiction Treatment

Reviewed by Carrie Carlton, Clinical Director (LCSW)

With Solution-Focused Therapy, also referred to as Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), individuals focus on their personal strengths and develop sustainable strategies to accomplish goals. This therapy can lead to patients finding resolutions and making positive changes more quickly than other treatments based on pathology and past life events.

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Focus on Solutions

Rather than zeroing in on the problems themselves, SFBT places a strong emphasis on discussing solutions. SFBT works to address the present and future, guiding a person toward a path of finding positive, actionable steps.

This approach was created by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg, who noticed that most therapy sessions dedicated time and attention solely to discussing symptoms and problems. In contrast, SFBT reroutes and reframes discussions toward specific solutions.

Berg and de Shazer believe the solutions are usually found in the “exceptions” to a problem: times when the issue isn’t affecting a person. This approach can be effective for addiction treatment.

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Putting Solutions-Focused Therapy to Work

In an SFBT session, a therapist will ask questions rather than suggesting answers. In turn, the individuals can unpack and reflect on potential solutions they arrive at themselves. The therapist will also reinforce positive qualities, strengths, and the individual’s ability to solve problems.

SFBT empowers a person with the tools needed to successfully tackle any obstacles. If a patient is aware of an issue, they are also aware of the exceptions or times when that particular issue isn’t a problem.

The therapist will pinpoint positive behaviors and work with the patient to brainstorm new approaches to challenges they face. Ultimately, an action plan and strategy are developed based on the individual’s specific situation.