In the 1980s, the original developers, Dr. Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer found it useful working in intercity Milwaukee with individuals, couples, and families struggling with addiction, domestic violence, depression, anxiety, parenting and family problems. Since then, SFBT has been successfully used in the child welfare system, in prisons, in the public school system, and with many clients suffering from mental illness.
As the name suggests, SFBT focuses on solutions, rather than on problems. Some forms of counseling spend a great deal of time thinking, talking, and analyzing problems for their clients, believing that surely if a person knows what causes the problem, they can make it go away.
Imagine if a medical doctor told you: “Yes, your appendix is very inflamed, and I know it’s causing you a great deal of pain right now, but we don't want to just treat the symptoms of your illness, so we'll need to spend several days trying to discover how you got into this condition.” You’d probably seek a second opinion. Of course we don't want to just "treat the symptoms," but we also want to take steps immediately to end the pain and suffering. Paying attention to the problem is like that. The more we focus on it, the bigger it gets.
During the 1980s, it occurred to Dr. Insoo Kim Berg and her research partner, Steve deShazer that perhaps the most important thing to do with clients is to alleviate the immediate suffering brought on by the problem, take positive steps away from the problem, and leave the analysis for later. SFBT therapists help their clients construct a concrete vision of a preferred future for themselves. In working toward this future, problems and past issues become more manageable.
This approach is based on the fact that problemswe encounter are dynamic, not static. No problem occurs “all the time”. If a person, for example, is attempting to break a self-destructive habit, simply focusing on "not doing" the thing will yield little results, because the more attention we pay to the problem, the bigger it gets. But, there are always times, even though they may be few and far-between, or very brief, when the impulse is absent or just a little better. We know that these “exceptions” to the problem hold valuable keys for future change. By examining what is different during these exceptional times, we can see what the future might look like in the absence of the problem. Then, as we bring these small successes to clients' awareness, helping them to repeat the successful things they do when the problem is not there or less severe, the client begins to move towards the preferred future they have identified. Note also that the therapist doesn't make the decision. The client directs, and assumes responsibilty for, their own healing. The therapist is simply acts in the role of facilitator.
SFBT will help clients who want immediate and lasting results, even for the most difficult and chronic problems. Each of us has within us the ability to formulate and implement our own solutions resulting in observable, measurable change, even after only one therapy session.
Drawing from the simple idea and universal truth that whatever we spend our time and energy focusing on gets bigger, our Solution-Focused sessions help clients identify a new way to think and imagine themselves in the future, as they want it to be, then take positive steps to make that preferred future a reality.,
Sometimes it takes a professional to ask just the right questions to uncover the hidden answers and solutions and to get back on track. Often people don't even know where they want to be, or what the future should look like for them. We can help with that. Think of us as a travel agency of sorts. We're here to help you figure out your destination for happiness, and then how to get there. So ask yourself where you want to be one week, one month, or one year from now. If your answer is anything but where you are now, give us a call and we'll help you begin to make changes.
While the Solution-Focused approach respects each client's past and what brought them to this point, it places the focus on what they really want to change, going forward. You know how sometimes you can’t think of a word, or someone’s name, but if you’ll get your mind off trying so hard to remember it, it’ll come to you? That same principle works with most problems. No, you can’t just ignore them. But once you take steps, knowing the problem is there, to move away from it, toward a preferred future, the problem becomes smaller, easier to deal with and less entangled in the rest of life. This idea is what’s behind much of the Solution-Focused approach to therapy. So, actually, far from simply ignoring problems, we spend our energy seeking solutions that work.
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Positive Change: Sometimes those words seem like two opposites, strangely connected in a random phrase. For many people, change is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of positive things. For many people, families and organizations change is not positive, because it brings discomfort, discord, dysfunction and division. We know it doesn’t have to be that way. And we instinctively believe there must be a way to manage change that brings us to a place of agreement, comfort and unity. But finding that way can be a daunting task.
The Banyan Group is a private, independently organized non-profit practice, dedicated to counseling, coaching and consulting, always with a view to managing change in such a way as to bring positive, helpful and hopeful results.
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