John started talking about what was bothering him before he even sat down on my couch. By the time I’d taken my seat, picked up my notepad, and formally welcomed him to his first session, John had filled me in on exactly who in his life had motivated him to seek help in therapy and what was causing his pain.
According to John, his parents, siblings, and his new mother-in-law were all contributing to the stress and anxiety he was feeling. As he wound up and begin reading me his laundry list of problems, I stopped him.
Time to redirect!
“Have you ever heard of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?” I asked. “No,” he said, anxious to continue.
“Well, I think you’re a good candidate for it,” I said. “Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, or SFBT, has been around since the early ‘70s, but most people have never heard of it because not a lot of therapists use it. It’s a future-focused and goal-directed approach to people’s problems. Unlike traditional therapy and counseling, which focus on the problems that lead clients to seek therapy, SFBT focuses on the solutions that help get people out of therapy quickly and with great results.”
“Go on,” he said. So, I did.
“SFBT therapists focus on the present or on the future, not on the past. SFT therapists/coaches believe that a person’s problems are best solved by focusing on what is already working and what the client can do to improve on what is working; and not on rehashing the past or assigning blame. The therapy centers around how a client would like their life to be, rather than focusing on their past.
“Traditional therapy focuses on a client’s history. Then, and usually only then, do most counselors begin to focus on solutions and skill sets based on the history. SFBT defines the existing problem or challenge and focuses immediately on solutions and ways to change, resolve or eliminate the issue.”
Where did this lead?
John and I kept talking. Instead of just walking out of my office feeling he’d been heard, John also had three specific solutions he could try immediately to resolve his issues.
In other words, SFBT therapy believes understanding the issue isn’t as important as resolving the issue. There’s always time to go back to look at things and understand them, but why would you if you can solve the problem now?
If you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, what’s more important? Getting the tire changed as quickly as possible so you can get back on the road, or trying to figure out what your driving patterns were and what might have caused the tire to fail in the first place?
Life’s a lot like that, too. Many people like to sit and stew and think and complain over the reason they’re in the state they’re in. But more of us like to define what we want to change, and then focus on how we can make that happen.
When John came back in for his second and third sessions, he was already experiencing changes and less stress from implementing new boundaries. It wasn’t easy; change rarely is; but the SFBT approach was powerful and effective.
I’m a solution-focused guide, coach, therapist, and counselor. If you’re looking more for solutions first, understanding later, call me. Let’s talk.