What Is Solution Focused Brief Therapy?

Written by Sukanya Wignaraja

Solution Focused Therapist & Coach


Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a future-oriented, strength-based therapy that draws on clients’ inherent coping skills. SFBT was developed in the 1980s by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, USA. De Shazer and Berg observed many hours of therapy sessions and paid attention to the questions, behaviours and emotions that helped clients create realistic and achievable solutions to their issues.

How Does Solution Focused Brief Therapy Work?

A solution-focused therapist assumes that all clients are capable and competent and have come to therapy because they wish something different to happen in their lives. Through powerful, strength-based questions, the solution-focused therapist highlights clients’ capabilities, their successes both in the past and present, helping them to explore options and move towards their desired futures.

How Does Solution Focused Brief Therapy Help?

SFBT is a versatile therapy that works equally well with all age groups, individuals as well as couples. It is very much a collaborative approach where the therapist partners with the client. “SFBT actively works toward solutions. It helps patients identify what they do well. It then encourages them to use their strengths to reach their goals. Because SFBT is goal-oriented and short-term, it can be less costly and less time-consuming than long-term therapy.”


Solution Focused Brief Therapy Techniques

Solution-Focused Art Therapy/ Letter Writing

A powerful in-session task is to request a client to draw or write about one of the following, as part of art therapy:

Strength Finders

Have a client focus on a time when they felt their strongest. Ask them to highlight what strengths were present when things were going well.

Solution Mind Mapping

A creative way to guide a client into a brainstorm of solutions is by mind mapping. Have the miracle at the center of the mind map.

Experiment Journals

Encourage clients to do experiments in real-life settings concerning the presenting problem.