“Suppose tonight, while you slept, all your problems were solved. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would signal your life had suddenly gotten better?

This type of question is one a therapist might ask a client when using a solution-focused therapy (SFT) approach. It is called the miracle question and entails the client envisioning and discussing a possible world where problems are removed, and issues are resolved.

What Is Solution-Focused Therapy?

SFT is a strength-based psychotherapy (talk therapy) approach based on solution-building instead of problem-solving. Unlike other forms of talk therapy that focus on the past and present problems and past causes, SFT concentrates on your current circumstances and potential prospects.

SFT uses a goal-oriented approach to solve problems by building the client’s strengths and establishing healthy coping skills. Unlike most talk therapy, SFT doesn’t focus on the why of a problem or underlying significance. Instead, it approaches each problem through small solutions that can be resolved sooner rather than later.

Techniques Used in Solution-Focused Therapy

SFT is an approach that falls under the umbrella of constructive therapies. The SFT therapist believes that change in life is inevitable.

In SFT, the counselor does not claim to be an expert but instead comes from a “not-knowing” standpoint and uses different questions to uncover vital information from the client, and sometimes will assign homework activities.

Some of the techniques of SFT include:

The Miracle Question

The miracle question is a technique counselors use to help clients think about a goal to determine if treatment is successful. It asks the client to consider life without the problem by creating a scene where a miracle happens, and the problem has gone away.

Scaling Questions

Scaling questions help measure the severity of the client’s problem. They are also valuable for tracking progress toward goals and observing change. The scaling questions are measured on a 10-point scale, where ten is the most positive. Asking a client to scale their challenges transforms a depiction of something significant into a manageable and measurable entity.

Exception Questions

Exception questions are meant to expose the client’s successes and strengths. They function on the assumption that there are always times when the acknowledged issue is less severe or nonexistent. In other words, the exception question allows the client to recognize times when the present problem wasn’t a problem.

Coping Questions

Coping questions allow the client and counselor to accept the client’s insights of their situation and then accentuate how clients cope and tolerate hardship. Coping questions reveal substantial acts taken by individuals dealing with misfortune and provide a foundation to build solutions.

Homework Assignments

At the end of the session, SFT counselors will often suggest an assignment that the client can try before their next session. The concept is that the activity is prepared to build on something the client has already done, thought about, or felt and is solution-focused.

Benefits of Solution-Focused Therapy

SFT is a short-term therapy that highlights current solutions for the clients’ struggles. Below are some ways that SFT benefits the client compared to other types of therapy approaches:

  • SFT is a short-term therapy, making it time and cost-effective: SFT seeks to discover solutions sooner rather than later. Solution-focused sessions have been known to last anywhere from 1 to 40 sessions. Twenty sessions usually are the maximum number of sessions, but many counselors set a number for the amount needed and one that the client and counselor agree upon.
  • SFT is built on empathy and open-mindedness: SFT therapists are conditioned to approach each client without judgment. When clients show improvement, they are commended for their strength and inspired to keep moving forward.
  • SFT is led by the client rather than the counselor: SFT empowers clients to make their own goals instead of depending on the therapist to guide the counseling process. This therapy approach permits clients to specify their problem-solving skills to enhance their self-esteem and forward-thinking.
  • SFT is future-oriented: Conventional therapy usually concentrates on past experiences and issues to expose more profound importance. This approach is constructed around optimism and positivity psychology. SFT seeks to encourage clients to focus on the present to achieve future goals.

What Can Solution-Focused Therapy Be Used For?

SFT can be used for the treatment of many types of mental health problems, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Relationship problems
  • Trauma
  • Family problems

SFT has been used effectively in individual therapy and with families and couples. Established with the initial intention of helping individuals in treatment to find solutions to challenges, the approach has extended to tackle issues in other areas of life, such as schools and the workplace. People from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and ages have all been shown to benefit from SFT.

Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) is a practical treatment approach for many different types of mental health disorders. SFT will give you the control to navigate your mental health recovery journey. If you or a loved one could benefit from SFT, we want to help. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, CA, develops comprehensive treatment plans tailored to your specific needs. We specialize in complex co-occurring conditions where you will have the chance to learn and apply the coping skills required to gain control of your life again. We will support you from crisis to independence by providing a healing environment with a caring team of professionals ready to help. At CCI, we offer treatment plans to meet every physical and emotional need for recovery. Let CCI ease your struggle in life with evidence-based treatment plans for a positive long-term recovery. Call 760.433.4357 today to learn more.

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