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PERSON-CENTERED THERAPY AND SOLUTION-FOCUSED BRIEF THERAPY: AN INTEGRATION OF PRESENT AND FUTURE AWARENESS BY LISA M. CEPEDA AND DONNA S. DAVENPORT

PERSON-CENTERED THERAPY AND SOLUTION-FOCUSED BRIEF THERAPY: AN INTEGRATION OF PRESENT AND FUTURE AWARENESS BY LISA M. CEPEDA AND DONNA S. DAVENPORT

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Published by jacxx2
The authors propose an integration of
person-centered therapy, with its focus
on the here and now of client awareness
of self, and solution-focused therapy,
with its future-oriented techniques
that also raise awareness of client potentials.
Although the two theories hold
different assumptions regarding the
therapist’s role in facilitating client
change, it is suggested that solutionfocused
techniques are often compatible
for use within a person-centered approach.
Further, solution-focused activities
may facilitate the journey of becoming
self-aware within the personcentered
tradition. This article reviews
the two theories, clarifying the similarities
and differences. To illustrate the
potential integration of the approaches,
several types of solution-focused strategies
are offered through a clinical
example.
The authors propose an integration of
person-centered therapy, with its focus
on the here and now of client awareness
of self, and solution-focused therapy,
with its future-oriented techniques
that also raise awareness of client potentials.
Although the two theories hold
different assumptions regarding the
therapist’s role in facilitating client
change, it is suggested that solutionfocused
techniques are often compatible
for use within a person-centered approach.
Further, solution-focused activities
may facilitate the journey of becoming
self-aware within the personcentered
tradition. This article reviews
the two theories, clarifying the similarities
and differences. To illustrate the
potential integration of the approaches,
several types of solution-focused strategies
are offered through a clinical
example.

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PERSON-CENTERED THERAPY AND SOLUTION-FOCUSEDBRIEF THERAPY: AN INTEGRATION OF PRESENT ANDFUTURE AWARENESS
LISA M. CEPEDA AND DONNA S. DAVENPORT
Texas A&M University
The authors propose an integration of  person-centered therapy, with its focuson the here and now of client aware-ness of self, and solution-focused ther-apy, with its future-oriented techniquesthat also raise awareness of client po-tentials. Although the two theories hold different assumptions regarding thetherapist’s role in facilitating client change, it is suggested that solution- focused techniques are often compatible for use within a person-centered ap- proach. Further, solution-focused activ-ities may facilitate the journey of be-coming self-aware within the person-centered tradition. This article reviewsthe two theories, clarifying the similari-ties and differences. To illustrate the potential integration of the approaches,several types of solution-focused strate-gies are offered through a clinicalexample.Keywords:
person-centered, solution-focused, theory integration, psychother-apy
Over the last 30 years, most psychotherapistshave self-identified as eclectic/integrative in theirtheoretical orientation (Norcross, Hedges, & Cas-tle, 2002; Norcross, Prochasca & Farber, 1993).Integration psychotherapy is motivated by dissat-isfaction with single-school approaches or a de-sire to look across and beyond school boundaries(Goldfried, Pachankis, & Bell, 2005). The avail-ability of different theoretical approaches allowstherapists to tailor their interventions to their cli-ents’ individual needs by selecting and integrat-ing specific techniques (van Kessel & Lietaer,1995). Thus, therapists look to explore how dif-ferent ways of thinking about psychotherapy andchange may combine to improve treatment out-comes (Goldfried et al., 2005). Practical reasonsalso motivate therapists to integrate theoreticalorientations. Managed health care andeconomicand contextual constraints lure therapists awayfrom long-term psychotherapy approaches. Thesepragmatic limitations often result in the modifi-cations and adjustments to psychotherapy aimedat reducing the length of treatment and measuringchange in a concrete and readily quantifiablemanner (Goldfried et al., 2005).However, therapists also express concern overthe idea that therapeutic gain can be achieved bymolding psychotherapy to pragmatism. Whereasproponents of brief therapy interventions empha-size the importance of being practical in effectingshort-term, positive change, experiential thera-pists are concerned that brief therapies do nottake sufficient time to assess the affective innerworld of the client (Jaison, 2002). Rather thantaking an either-or approach, the present authorspropose that the process of integrating differentapproaches can be achieved to attain pragmaticgains while accessing the client’s inner world andwithout losing theoretical congruity (see also Jai-son, 2002). We will present how Person-Centered(PC; Rogers, 1980) and Solution-Focused (SF;De Jong & Berg, 2002) theories and techniquescan be integrated and applied to a real-worldtherapy case. After a brief summary of both the-
Lisa M. Cepeda and Donna S. Davenport, CounselingPsychology Program, Department of Educational Psychology,Texas A&M University, College Station.We thank Antonio Cepeda-Benito for reading several ver-sions of the current manuscript and providing excellent con-structive feedback.Correspondence regarding this article should be addressedto Lisa M. Cepeda, Department of Educational Psychology,Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4225.E-mail: lcepeda@neo.tamu.edu
Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association2006, Vol. 43, No. 1, 112 0033-3204/06/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0033-3204.43.1.1
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ories, a clinical example of how the integration of these approaches may take place will be pre-sented. Our hope is that ideas suggested here willenhance therapists’ creative thinking about fur-ther use of PC therapy by actively inspiring anawakening of the client’s potential self throughthe use of SF techniques.Carl Rogers’ person-centered therapy hasmade immeasurable contributions to the fields of counseling and psychotherapy (James & Gilli-land, 2003). Rogers’ views of the human poten-tial and the role of the therapist as being a listenerthat is supportive, accepting, and caring became awelcomed alternative to Freudian psychoanalysisand directive behaviorism (Rogers & Kinget,1962; Raskin, 1948; Seligman, 2001). Rogers’ideas have found wide appeal because they ex-plain “basic aspects of the way in which theperson’s own capacity for change can be releasedand ways in which relationships can foster ordefeat such self-directed change” (Rogers, 1980,p.50). Rogers was responsible for demonstratingthat the therapist’s delivery of genuineness, em-pathy, and acceptance within the therapeutic re-lationship is the most important tool for clientchange (Corey, 2001; Kramer, 1995). Moreover,this ideal of the therapeutic relationship has beengenerally incorporated by most approaches(Watkins & Goodyear, 1984).Solution-focused (SF) therapy began in the1980s with the research and writings of Steve deShazer, Insoo Kim Berg, and their colleagues (fora review, see De Jong & Berg, 2002). Therapistsusing a SF approach de-emphasize the past infavor of behavior change that promotes the at-tainment of the person’s wants and goals. Ratherthan spending time seeking to understand thecauses of a problem, SF therapists spend theirenergies increasing their clients’ hope and foster-ing in them an expectancy of change (Bozeman,2000). Like Rogerians, SF therapists work toincrease their clients’ awareness (Norum, 2000).Rather than enhancing complete self-awareness,SF therapists selectively focus on their clients’strengths and on what is working in their lives.
Theoretical Assumptions and Key Elementsof Person-Centered Therapy
Person-centered therapy rests on the assump-tion that the practicing therapist can help clientsovercome the negative effects that some pastexperiences have had on their attitudes, feelings,and behaviors. Therapists help clients by facili-tating here and now experiences within the ther-apeutic relationship that create the opportunityfor clients to become aware of their true feelings(de Haas, 1980; Lehmann, 1974; Rogers, 1961).Rogers posits that this
awareness of self 
can onlybecome actualized, grow, and change through aninterpersonal relationship that is safe, accepting,and caring (Schmid, 2002). This is the goal of therapy: to create the conditions that will encour-age clients toward self-actualization, to becometheir most real and richest being (Brodley, 1986).In order to facilitate change, the therapist mustfully receive the client and the client must expe-rience being fully received, an experience whichincludes the sense of being understood and ac-cepted empathically (Rogers, 1961). This ap-proach rests on three main conditions deemednecessary for personal client growth and change:genuineness or congruence, empathy, andwarmth or unconditional positive regard (Rogers,1967). The relationship of person-centered ther-apy allows clients to become aware and to fullyaccept themselves as they are—including imper-fections and dysfunctions. This client awarenessexposes the gap between the real and ideal self and serves to motivate the individual toward nar-rowing the gap. Clients then use this relationshipto generalize to the outside world (de Haas, 1980;Swildens, 1977) and to become more open toexperiences (Rogers, 1961). The therapist and theclient perceive this change as the client becomesable to see reality without distorting it to fit apreconceived, defensive structure. The assump-tion is that clients go from a rigid belief system toone of process and change, with an enhancedinterest for exploring new possibilities. Clientsmay become less invested in their public imagesand more interested in understanding how theyare and in becoming their true selves. Thus,change occurs because the client is motivated toactualize; not only is there no need to encouragechange, this theory suggests that “pushing” theclient to make changes can actually bedetrimental.
Theoretical Assumptions and Key Elementsof Solution-Focused Therapy
Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg, BillO’Hanlon, and Michelle Weiner-Davis are thenames most closely associated to the origins of solution-focused therapy (De Jong & Berg, 2002;
Cepeda and Davenport 
2
 
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 therapistsadoption 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
customer 
-
type
relationship, clients acknowledge the prob-lem and want to do something about it. In a
visitor-type
relationship, conversely, clients arenot very interested in seeing things change or indoing anything about the problem (Fisch et al.,1982).
Complainants
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
goal negotiation
(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
 Miracle Question
, 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
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