ABOUT THE SOLUTION FOCUSED APPROACH
In a few words
While serious problems can be overwhelming and discouraging, the solution focused approach is about focusing on solutions, on the future, on past successes, on little steps that lead to the preferred future. It has been observed that this kind of attitude can increase motivation.
The solution-focused brief approach grew from the work of American social workers Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg, and their team at the Milwaukee Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was first mainly used in the therapeutical field. Since then, its psychological principles have been applied to a wide range of fields, from mental health to organisational change.
The idea is that knowing where you want to get to makes the getting there much more likely. Speaking about problems can have a discouraging effect, so that we can end up doing nothing. We know that we don't want the problem but we have lost sight of what it is we do want.
The solution focused approach is future-focused. It generates detailed pictures of the preferred future. Such images motivate and inspire people to take action.
Solution focused practice concentrates on everything that is already being done that is moving, or has the potential, to move in the direction of the preferred future. Motivation comes from focusing on doing what works, rather than dwelling on what does not. In effect, it raises awareness of relative success and encourages the lessons of progress to be learnt. The result is a "virtuous circle" (in opposition to "vicious circles which often cause and increase problems).
Some basic principles of the solution focused approach (from: Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: its Effective Use in Agency Settings, Teri Pichot, Yvonne M Dolan):
1. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
2. If something is working, do more of it.
3. If it is not working, do something different.
4. Small steps can lead to larger changes.
5. The solution is not necessarily related to the problem.
6. The language for solution development is different from what is needed to describe a problem.
7. No problem happens all of the time. There are always exceptions that can be utilized.
8. The future is both created and negotiable.