Seligman, 2001). These authors maintain that so-lutions are possible without an in-depth assess-ment of the nature of the problems for whichclients seek help (De Jong & Berg, 2002). Ratherthan assuming a necessary connection between aproblem and its solution, SF therapy focuses onthe client’s strengths. The assumption is thatworking with the client’s resources is more con-structive than working with the client’s deﬁcits(Berg & Reuss, 1998). The emphasis is on thefuture instead of the past, on solutions rather thanproblems, and on client strengths, not deﬁcien-cies (Murphy, 1997).Several authors offer a number of underlyingassumptions and directives to guide therapists’adoption of the solution-focused model (De Jong& Berg, 2002; Walter & Peller, 1992). Amongthe most important assumptions are the following:
If it doesn’t work, do something different, andif it works, do more of it.
Clients have the strengths and resources tochange.
Clients’ problems are seen as roadblocks re-sulting from limited recognition of alternativesand not as symptoms of underlying pathology.
A small change in any aspect of a problem caninitiate a solution.
Focusing on future possibilities and solutionsenhances change, as does cooperation.Proponents of SF therapy insist that the clientsare the experts of their own lives. To communi-cate this, therapists set aside their worldviews inorder to be in a state of curiosity and desire thatcan be informed by the client (Berg & Reuss,1998). Murphy (1997) calls this stance adoptingthe “ambassador perspective.” This approach issimilar to Rogers’ concept of empathy—gettinginside the client’s world (Lipchick, 2002). Inaddition to being curious, the practitioner of theambassador perspective is tentative instead of absolute. To help establish a relationship, thetherapist tries to match the client’s language andposition. To facilitate the focus on the future andto communicate hope, the therapist speaks usingpresuppositional language, which communicatesa positive expectation for change and faith in theclient’s ability to bring about the change that willimprove his or her own life (Sarti, 2003).It is important to cooperate with the client’sposition, which refers both to the client’s theoryabout a problem and its solution and to the cli-ent’s “customership”; that is, his or her motiva-tion and commitment to resolve the problem(Fisch, Weakland, & Segal, 1982). In a
relationship, clients acknowledge the prob-lem and want to do something about it. In a
relationship, conversely, clients arenot very interested in seeing things change or indoing anything about the problem (Fisch et al.,1982).
acknowledge that there is aproblem, but they are unwilling to do anythingabout it. Regardless of the initial customership,therapists must remain unswerving in their dedi-cation and respect for their clients, thus shapingtheir clients’ attitudes toward the customer view-point. Therapists also rely on homework tasksthat accommodate the client’s unique views withregards to their unique solutions, but with theintention that each task will move clients forwardtoward their goal (Greene, Lee, Mentzer, Pinnell,& Niles, 1998).The beginning of solution talk starts with theend in mind. The client describes at the onset of counseling what he or she wants. This is called
(Berg & De Jong, 1996). Effec-tive goals should be speciﬁc, small, positive, andmost importantly, meaningful (Murphy, 1997).Well-formed goals need to be described as thepresence of something positive rather than theabsence of something negative. Therapists en-courage clients to “describe how they will knowwhen the problem is solved” (De Jong & Berg,2002, p. 80). To achieve this
presence of positivebehavior
, therapists ask for speciﬁc details aboutwho will be doing what-to-whom-when-and-where after the problem is solved (Murphy,1997). Therapists also help clients identifysources of support within their relationships byasking how signiﬁcant others can be of help inbuilding solutions and how they will react whenthe solutions substitute the problem. Pulling fromthe strengths and talents of the client’s signiﬁcantothers gives the client a real-life view of thesolutions’ impact (Santa Rita, 1998).A well-known strategy of SF therapy is the
, which invites clients to think about unlimited possibilities. Insoo Kim Bergsets the stage for her clients’ creative answersusing a dramatic voice to create a lightness thatevokes possibility within the session, thus invit-ing the client’s imagination.
Suppose that, while you are sleeping tonight, a miracle hap-pens. The miracle is that the problem, which brought you heretoday, is solved. Only you don’t know that it is solved becauseyou are asleep. What difference will you notice tomorrow
Blending Person-Centered and Solution-Focused Therapies