How it works, part 2 (Solution Focused vs Problem Analysis)

How it works, part 2 (Solution Focused vs Problem Analysis)

It doesn't need to analyse your childhood.

The ‘Solution Focused’ part of SFH refers to an evidence-based approach to psychotherapy developed in the 80’s called Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Interestingly it is one of the few psychotherapeutic approaches that began as ‘evidence-based’ rather than ‘theory-driven’. Its originators spent thousands of hours studying therapy sessions and making meticulous notes about what worked and what moved clients forward.

Over the next ten years, a style developed that was collaborative and solution-focused, as opposed to the more traditional interpretive, confrontative and problem-focused methods of psychoanalysis.

Counselling and psychoanalysis rely on the theory that if you feel miserable or anxious now, there must be something from your past that is causing the problem. This leads to the idea that analysing, discussing and confronting past problems is the only way to move forward to a brighter future. Many people who have been through this process can tell you that this is simply not always the case. In-fact there is a wealth of empirical evidence showing that a solution focussed approach is an effective method of dealing with psychological problems, and that positive results are achieved in a shorter time compared to either psychoanalysis, counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT).

Close your eyes! (no, really, I mean it… but read the next bit first)

Imagine a difficult or embarrassing event that happened to you… imagine it in detail, picture the situation, keep adding details, think a bit more about those details. Now, how rubbish does that make you feel? If you picked an embarrassing incident, chances are you’ll be blushing by now. If you could bear it and think of something really upsetting, you might feel tearful. This is because human brains are really bad at knowing the difference between what we think about, talk about and imagine and what actually happens. The same neurone chain fires up, releasing the same chemicals, producing the same emotional effect. This is a great technique for keeping us safe in the jungle (don’t forget where that snake hangs out and bit you when you were 5) It’s not a great technique for moving us forward to make positive behavioural changes that let us have happy, calm, thriving lives. 


De Shazer, S. and Berg, I. (1997). ‘What works?’ Remarks on Research Aspects of Solution‐Focused Brief Therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 19(2), pp.121-124.
Harris, P. (2007). Empathy for the devil. Lyme Regis: Russell House Pub 
Human Givens (2019). 13. [podcast] Political deception and the CBT tsunami. Available at: [Accessed 29 Aug. 2019].
Rasmussen, B. (2017). A Critical Examination of CBT in Clinical Social Work Practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 46(3), pp.165-173.
Ratner, H. (2012). Solution focused brief therapy. London: Routledge. 
Sapolsky, R. (2004). Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. [S.l.]: Henry Holt and Co. 
Institute for Solution Focused Therapy. (2019). The Institute for Solution-Focused Therapy | Anne Lutz, M.D.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Aug. 2019].

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