Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT), sometimes referred to as Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) was developed by Steve de Shazer (1940-2005), and Insoo Kim Berg (1934-2007). As the name indicates, the approach focuses on solutions rather than problems, exploring possible futures and goals. Since its inception, SFT has become influential not only in the field of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, but also in business, education and offender rehabilitation programmes. This has been due largely to the emphasis on realistic goal setting, and the belief that all clients have some idea of what their preferred future would look like. The Miracle Question is the primary intervention for exploring these preferred futures.
Another SFT technique is to explore previous solutions with the client, and assessing if any of these solutions could be used for the current problem, or if previous solutions could be modified in any way to be effective in the present. If the client cannot think of any previous solutions that may be applicable, it can be productive to explore differences or exceptions to the problem. For example “what is different about times when the problem does not occur?”.
This concept of “difference” is integral to the Miracle Question when the client is asked to identify what would be different after the “miracle”. This encourages future focused visualisation which primes the unconscious mind to process these possibilities during trance. This is why the combination of Solution Focused Therapy and hypnotherapy is so powerful. The SF therapist may also utilise the “differences” the client indicates by asking the client what they could do to work towards bringing these differences into reality. The therapist can also help the client by identifying sub goals which will motivate the client when achieved.
Another key to motivation in SFT is to compliment the client on their achievements. This not only validates the client`s successes, but also indicates that the therapist is listening, and acknowledges the difficulties they face. This in turn will increase rapport and encourage the client to change. Progress towards change can also be monitored using scaling questions. A good example of this is the scaling question on the Log Report. This can be used in many ways to give an indication where the client is on several issues. For example Happiness, Self Esteem and Confidence etc. It can also generate questions such as “what would need to be different to move up to the next number?”. In this respect, scaling questions can be seen as a brief form of Miracle Question when followed by a question focusing on differences.