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Benefits of Solution Focused Therapy

Benefits of Solution-Focused Therapy, Uses, Techniques, Limitations & Best Treatment Options for Addiction

What is Solution Focused Therapy?

One of the most wonderful benefits of solution-focused therapy is that it’s always brief; to date, there has not been much research comparing it to other models. Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is a new and increasingly used therapeutic approach that focuses on helping clients construct solutions rather than solve problems. The approach evolved in a clinical context amid many anecdotal reports of success from therapists and clients. [1]

There was strong evidence that solution-focused brief therapy was effective for various psychiatric and substance use disorders. It seemed to be shorter, making it cheaper than alternative treatments.

What is Solution-Focused Therapy Used for?

Many therapists believe that the benefits of solution-focused therapy are useful for clients who need schizophrenia treatment, and research supports its effectiveness with some clients with serious mental illnesses such as addiction.

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In treating substance abuse, a therapist using a solution-focused approach works closely with the client to understand the client’s own perspective on her problems; by focusing on those areas the client considers significant (e.g., relationships, work, financial security). The therapist assists the client in understanding how her substance abuse affects those significant areas of concern. The therapist helps the client solve those significant problems while strongly reinforcing the client’s success. After the initial session, the therapist keeps the client focused on how her situation is improving by asking, “What’s better this time?”

One of the benefits of solution focused therapy is that it encourages the clients to determine the length of time needed between sessions. This approach helps the client take ownership of the process and recognize his power to control change (realizing that one has the power to choose often is the solution itself).

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Solution Focused Therapy for Addictions

The solution-focused therapist believes that helping clients with addiction disorders to address any life problems they find significant will help them to reduce their substance use. What is important is finding a solution to the problems the client identifies as significant, then reinforcing the client’s success in solving those problems. This procedure helps the client to recognize her own ability to solve her problems. [2]

Solution Focused Therapy Techniques

The benefits of solution focused therapy are coming from a healthy relationship between the client and the therapist. The therapist using the therapy spends most of the first session defining goals. The word “problem” is avoided throughout the sessions.

One technique of solution-focused therapy is to focus on the exceptions to the client’s problems. For example, in providing the benefits of solution focused therapy to a client with a substance abuse disorder, the therapist should direct the client’s attention to periods when he was substance-free. To identify these periods, the therapist must listen carefully to the client’s responses, then ask the client to discuss those periods. The purpose is to help the client realize that he can maintain sobriety and has done so in the past. The idea of focusing on the exception to any presenting problem is an aspect of strategic therapy that has particular relevance to the substance abuser.

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Solution-focused interviewing strategies include the following (based on Giorlando and Schilling, 1996), presented in a typical sequence. These strategies can be applied at different points in the therapeutic process as appropriate. [3]

  • Ask the “miracle question” (i.e., “If a miracle happened and [your condition] were suddenly not a problem for you, how would your life be different?”).
  • Ask about exceptions (e.g., “Are there ever times you see pieces of the miracle?”).
  • Explore differences between the current status and the desired problem-free state (e.g., “What is the difference between the times when you can see pieces of the miracle and the times when you can see only the problem?”).
  • Use scaling to determine how well the client thinks things are going, how willing she is to work toward the “miracle,” her confidence in her ability to change, and the steps needed to improve the situation from one rating on the scale to the next highest.
  • Try taking “time-outs” and suggest to the client, “While I step out, I want you to think of the next smallest step you could take that would bring you to the next number on the scale.”
  • Affirm client competencies (e.g., tell the client, “I am impressed you are sitting in that chair again after what you just went through”). Many of these clients have never had this success acknowledged before.

most therapists see the benefits of solution focused therapy when they suggest tasks to the client that can improve her situation (e.g., ask her to do something achievable that would provide useful information or move her closer to the “miracle” she has chosen).

Benefits of Solution-Focused Therapy

The principles and benefits of solution-focused therapy are the same for group therapy as for individual therapy. These include client goal setting through the “miracle” question, scaling questions to monitor progress, and identifying successful strategies that work for each client.

Solution-focused brief therapy was developed by Steve De Shazer and his colleagues at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Solution-focused brief therapy emphasizes building exceptions to the presenting problem and making rapid transitions to identifying and developing solutions intrinsic to the client or problem. Basic principles of this approach include the following:

  • Focusing on competence rather than pathology
  • Finding a unique solution for each person
  • Using exceptions to the problem to open the door to optimism
  • Using past successes to foster confidence
  • Looking to the client as the expert
  • Using goal-setting to chart a path toward change
  • Sharing the responsibility for change with the client

Limitations of Solution Focused Therapy

The basic principles of solution-focused therapy are fairly simple; they are the same when used for treating substance abuse disorders as for treating other mental health concerns. A therapist uses these same principles for an individual client, family, or group. The therapist emphasizes finding solutions to a problem, not discovering the cause or origins of the problem.

Benefits of Solution Focused Therapy

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Solution Focused Therapy Training Near Me

We Level Up treatment center can help with inpatient therapy programs exclusively. Because each client is different and requires unique, comprehensive care according to their situation, our staff of well-trained physicians and nurses first begin the client relationship with a detailed one-on-one assessment.


Withdrawal from substance abuse is an important first step to overcoming addiction or drug dependency. However, withdrawal isn’t an effective treatment by itself. You’ll need further treatment and support to help you in the long term.  [4]

Often, drug detox can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. However, proper care and medical supervision will greatly reduce the chances of developing these symptoms and ensure a safe detox process. This means the individual detoxing will be weaned off the substance slowly and carefully. Depending on their biology, dosage, and frequency of use, the time it takes to taper off varies but is usually achieved within a few weeks.

The longer and heavier the abusing of drugs, the more prolonged and more severe detox will be.  For this reason, going through the process sooner than later, and getting help, is critical to recovery.

Once fully admitted and evaluated, the 2nd stage of detox gets underway:  stabilization.  Based on the data provided during the admissions process, patient feedback, and the symptoms observed, our experienced team of medical addiction professionals will provide care to keep the patient stable and as comfortable as possible. [5]

Programs, services, and treatments vary. We Level Up rehab center offers inpatient substance abuse treatment. Offering co-occurring treatments. We treat all addiction and behavioral health disorders, including their secondary corresponding illnesses, to improve long-term recovery outcomes. Get a free health assessment and find out what treatment options are most suitable for you. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used treatment for drug abuse and dependence to help individuals identify negative thought patterns, emotions, and problematic behaviors and learn how to make healthy lifestyle changes that decrease the urges to drink or abuse drugs and use other substances; paying particular attention to symptoms of psychosis, depression, and other co-existing mental health-related problems or dual diagnosis that are exacerbated by stress. The benefits of solution-focused therapy are effective in treating mental health disorders, but CBT is still one of the best treatment options for dual diagnosis.

Counseling Services

The individual, group, and family counseling services are offered in the majority of mental health and substance abuse treatment programs to “get to the root of the problems,” improve communications and relationships, and motivate the abuser toward positive changes. . The structured guidance of a counselor helps the patient stay on track and in the right perspectives as they strive to achieve their potentials and goals of recovery.

Benefits of Solution Focused Therapy
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Solution Focused Therapy Treatment

Increasing awareness of high-risk situations and warning signs and developing avoidance strategies and coping skills for handling those situations is an important part of treatment known as relapse prevention and knowing what to do should relapse occur is equally important to ensure any long-term recovery success.

Our FREE 24-hour Hotline can help you with the resources if you are thinking about the benefits of solution focused therapy. Get a free consultation now for your best-fitting treatment programs, along with free rehab insurance verification. Call We Level Up today and speak with one of our addiction specialists to check your rehab insurance coverage and benefits.

We Level Up addiction counselors will discuss the average cost of the program based on the personalized treatment that works best for you.

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[1] Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration
[2-3] Solution-focused brief therapy: a review of the outcome research – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[4] Alcohol Misuse –
[5] Stabilization Treatment Program – We Level Up New Jersey

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