This paper is about Solution Focus Narrative Therapy. In Solution Focus Narrative Therapy, the Therapy does not emphasize the problem at all; it stresses and highlights the solution. Solution Focused therapy also considers the client as an expert and not the therapist. The client is the expert because no one knows their own life’s better than themselves. The therapist is basically there to guide the sessions, but the client decides which direction to take. In the paper, I go over the history and context of Solution Focus Narrative Therapy (SFNT). Key concepts associated with Solution Focus Narrative Therapy, the therapist role, common goals, and conventional techniques applied to Solution Focus Narrative Therapy.
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Solution-Focused Narrative Therapy (SFNT) is a short-term goal-focused therapeutic approach that helps clients change by constructing solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Elements of the desired solution often are already present in the client’s life and become the basis for ongoing change. The Solution Focus Narrative Therapy concentrates on helping people move towards the future that they want and to learn what can be done differently by using their existing skills, strategies, and ideas – rather than focusing on the adversities. I’ve collected the information about the Solution Focus Narrative Therapy approach based on the textbook by Dr. Metcalf and following the rubrics: History, Key concepts, the role of the therapist, goals, and standard techniques.
History and Context of Solution Focus Narrative Solution (SFNT)
For the past twenty-five years, Linda Metcalf, Ph.D., counselor, author, and director of graduate counseling programs at Texas Wesleyan, has blended two primary postmodern therapy approaches in her work with children, adolescents, families, and couples. Her new book, Solution-Focused Narrative Therapy (Metcalf, 2017), harnesses the power of both models: the strengths-based, solution building approach of Solution-Focused Therapy and the value-honoring and re-descriptive approach of Narrative Therapy, to offer brief, effective help to clients that build on their strengths and abilities to envision and craft preferred outcomes.
In the book, Metcalf provides an overview of the history of both models and outlines their differences, similarities, limitations, and strengths. It then demonstrates how to blend these two approaches in working with such issues as trauma, addictions, grief, relationship issues, family therapy, and mood issues. Each concern is illustrated with a case study from practice with individual adults, adolescents, children, and families. The book contains useful client dialogue and forms to help the clinician guide clients in practice. Each chapter concludes with a summary describing and reinforcing the principles of the topic and a personal exercise so the reader can experience the approach first hand.
Key Concepts associated with Solution Focus
The questions asked by SF therapists are usually focused on the present or in the future. This reflects the fundamental belief that problems are best solved by focusing on what is already working and how a client would like their life to be, rather than focusing on the past and the origin of the problem. The focus of narrative therapy is around stories that we develop within ourselves and carry through our lives.
Narrative therapy is based on the following principles
Reality is socially constructed, and it is influenced by (and communicated through) language.
The therapist role in Solution Focus Narrative Solution
The solution-focused approach provides counselors with a framework for exploring and utilizing clients’ existing resources, their strengths, support networks, ideas, and theories of how change occurs. Solution-focused counseling seeks to redirect client thinking from being problem-focused to solution-focused. This can be a difficult task, mainly when the client has lived with a particular concern for many years. Techniques such as the miracle question and exception questions can serve as useful tools for inspiring new ways of thinking and generating ideas for solution building and the establishment of a preferred future.
Common goals of Solution Focus Narrative Therapy
The word “brief” in solution-focused brief therapy is key. The purpose of SFBT is to find and implement a solution to the problem or problems as soon as possible to minimize the time spent in treatment and, more importantly, time spent struggling or suffering. Brief positive psychotherapy (BPT) refers to well-structured, effective, and short-term technologies. It integrates well with other counseling methods.
It is among the ten leaders among consultative and psychotherapeutic approaches and is becoming increasingly popular in world practice. Recently, another name has been used more often – therapy focused on solution-focused therapy (SFT). One of the directions of the modern new wave in psychotherapy centered on activating the patient’s resources to solve their problems.
Despite the fact that practitioners of SFT are principled opponents of concepts in working with patients in a theoretical interpretation of their experience, as in any good theory, there are three sources and three components. Three sources are attitudes, the experience of systemic, and strategic psychotherapy. For solution-focused psychotherapists and the classics of essential psychotherapy that they respect, they are not indisputable authorities, and their technical principles are irrefutable dogmas (Dewan, Steenbarger, & Greenberg, 2017).
Thus, if for classical family psychotherapy the requirement to attend psychotherapeutic classes by the whole family is indispensable, and the discussion of family dynamics and the formation of a therapeutic program is carried out by a team of psychotherapists on the sidelines, then short-term psychotherapists have creatively expanded the possibilities of family psychotherapy without presenting such strict requirements to the patient and his family, and therapeutic discussion programs are carried out together with the patient and his relatives.
The three components are the basic principles of SFT, such as relying only on the positive in the patient’s life, his resources, and the use of only positive reinforcements in working with the patient and his relatives. It also includes a positivist philosophical approach. Recognizing the one-sidedness and illusory nature of such a worldview, the task of psychotherapy is the formation of a more dialectical worldview, expanding it by connecting bright vision and hope (Dewan et al., 2017). The use of only positive reinforcements in working with the patient allows him to liberate and activate his positive memories, intuition, and the ability to constructively fantasize, to make available his subjective concept of health – a disease that patients are usually ashamed to present to the therapist due to her unscientific and naivety.
The positivistic approach to psychotherapy, the fundamental provision of the leading role to the experience and intuition of the patient, his relatives, and psychotherapists, consciously overcoming the rigid framework of any psychotherapeutic concepts, allows positive psychotherapists to resolve the stereotype of phased medical interaction with the patient and begin working with the patient directly from corrective measures, only in case of inefficiency methods at a cognitive level to analyze patient problems and model therapeutic effects given the negative feedback on the primary impact.
A course of psychotherapy and counseling is usually an average of 3-4 lessons when psychotherapists are oriented toward the desirability and possibility of psychotherapy in one conversation. The duration of the lesson is generally more than an hour, the first – often more than two hours — the intervals between classes from a few days to several months. The patient may come alone, but participation in the courses of his relatives or friends is always welcome (Dewan et al., 2017). The proposed model, being socially oriented, is adequate in a wide range of cases. Psychotherapy is the solution to rehabilitation problems in psychosomatic diseases, family and professional counseling, school and preschool institutions.
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The decision-oriented therapy concept emphasizes that guilty feelings are destructive for psychotherapy, and self-incrimination and blaming of those close to you are an obstacle to the patient’s and his family’s collaboration with the doctor, and the reason for the low efficiency and duration of classical psychotherapy. Therefore, psychotherapists focused on the solution, in principle, are not fixed on finding the causes of discomfort for their patients but are engaged in the search and implementation of resources to overcome it (Dewan et al., 2017).
The central postulate and principle of psychotherapy focused on solving this quality of life is a derivative of a person’s worldview, his attitude to events. A psychotherapist, in most cases, cannot change the patient’s real-life but can change his worldview. A person is not free to free himself from all diseases and problems, but he has the opportunity to change the negative vision of his life and issues to a more dialectical one. Another postulate is that confrontation or the fight against a problem is, in most cases, not effective. Every issue, every symptom has both a positive and adaptive aspect. Acceptance of these aspects, the search for a compromise is the key path to a solution.
Common techniques used in Solution Focus Narrative Therapy
In SFNT, counselors ask specific types of questions to guide the session. Coping questions, for example, can help demonstrate to those in therapy their resiliency and the number of ways in which they are capable of coping with challenges in their lives. An example might be, “How do you manage, in the face of such difficulty, to fulfill your daily obligations?” This can help people recognize their skills in coping with adversity.
Miracle questions help people envision a future in which the problem is absent. In essence, this line of questioning allows people to explain how their lives would look different if the problem did not exist, which can help them identify small, practical steps they can take immediately toward change. For example, the person in therapy might describe a feeling of ease with family members and believe this ease can only be felt if the present problem were absent.
Imagining a scenario where the current issue does not exist can remind people behavioral changes are possible and allow them to see what can be done to create a difference in their lives. Scaling questions use a scale from 0–10 to assess present circumstances, progress, or how one is viewed by others. These kinds of questions are often used when there is insufficient time to explore the miracle question, and they can help a therapist to gain insight into the hopefulness, motivation, and confidence of people in therapy. In addition, people who have difficulty verbalizing their experiences may find this approach less challenging.
In conclusion of this review on SFNT is that solution-focused narrative therapy is an effective approach to the treatment of psychological problems with effect sizes. The scope of any psychotherapeutic concept is always narrower than the individual characteristics and experience of specific patients and their families. Following an idea can impose unrealistic and ineffective decisions because of logical beauty and dogmatic faith.
The experience and intuition of the patient, his family, and the doctor consolidate and suggest effective solutions. It is important to remember that there are no resisting patients; there are conceptually or technically rigid psychotherapists. An analysis of the causes of the problem should not be accompanied by the self-incriminating experiences of the patient and his accusations of his relatives. It is more constructive to identify and activate resources for solving the problem that each patient and his/her environment have.
Dewan, M. J., Steenbarger, B. N., & Greenberg, R. P. (2017). The art and science of brief psychotherapies: A practitioner’s guide. Philadelphia, PA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Metcalf, L. (2017). Solution focused narrative therapy. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.