Solution focused therapy

SFT is a kind of psychotherapy (talking therapy) that is mostly concerned with finding out what works and doing more of it.

Traditional approaches to psychotherapy (psychodynamic therapy) may be to treat the causes of difficulties/mental health problems, on the basis that if you understand the cause you can do something about it, or at least acknowledge it.  SFT is specifically focused on solutions and not causes. There are several variants of this kind of therapy but they do share certain features in common.

The SFT therapist will ask questions about the client's life that are designed to elicit the positives, ways of coping that already exist and can be built on, and engender thinking within the client/patient that allows them to create solutions, rather than suggesting or imposing them. Many if not most therapies aim to create self-sufficiency although some may go via a period of dependency on the therapy/ist at first. SFT practitioners would say they sidestep that phase and try to go straight to the client's internal resilience and survival mechanisms. Some will have a more narrative based approach – this is the idea that we create certain "stories" about ourselves and that we can alter these with great effects on our lives. This area overlaps with other psychotherapies such as family/systemic therapy.

Some people exploring difficulties may become temporarily more depressed or anxious, for example, while they sort through the issues that brought them to therapy. Any competent therapist will be able to deal with this and will have safety measures in place through liaison with colleagues if appropriate – for example a psychotherapist might have a connection with a psychiatrist to ensure that if a client became severely depressed rapid access to appropriate assessment and treatment is available. Such incidents are extremely rare.

It is naturally important to ensure that your therapist is appropriately qualified, registered and keeps up to date. It is also important to feel comfortable with them – trust your instincts as it will be almost impossible to make progress if you do not feel secure in the relationship or at the very least able to discuss such feelings. However in SFT the focus is unlikely to be on feelings as much as other therapies and more on behaviours and what we do.

Want to look at other treatments? or find it on the A-Z list.