Solution Focused Therapy for Children
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Solution-focused therapy has a unique orientation toward non-problem times. The purpose is to help people target and amplify resources and strengths toward change (Berg, 1994). The article that I researched is about a study of using the framework of solution focused therapy with children. Children were referred by the study for presenting problems involved those relating to “behavior,” such as aggression toward peers or parents, defiance toward teachers, and conduct problems in school (i.e. non-completion of assignments, impulsivity, talking out-of-turn, and other classroom management problems). Referrals were screened out if they reported the need for treatment due to stressful life events, such as sexual abuse or if the child’s family had recently suffered a death or divorce.
In the counseling session of the children, the counselors ask them questions concerning what helped them in the past with their problem. The questions asked by the counselors were usually focused on the present or on the future. That reflected on the basic belief that problems are best solved by focusing on what is already working, and how a client would like their life to be, rather than focusing on the past and what isn’t wanted. According to Nunnally (1993), “validating what clients are already doing well, and acknowledging how difficult their problems are encourages the client to change while giving the message that the counselor has been listening and cares.” The counselor then asked them the miracle question. The miracle question was based on the child waking up with his problem solved. The counselor then asks the child what happened to make the miracle happen. The counselor then asks the child to set small goals to solve problems.
In the study, 180 children were studied. 90 were given the solution focused therapy and the other 90 were given normal intervention therapy. The “treatment-as-usual”comparison group was family treatment, relying heavily on cognitive-behavioral interventions. Behavioral parent training was a central focus in which parents learned to track behaviorally specific goals, to reinforce appropriate behavior with praise, tokens, privileges, and other rewards, to ignore minor negative behaviors. The difference is that solution-focused therapy concentrates on what is already working for the client, their strengths and resources, while cognitive behavioral therapy (the primary basis of “treatment-as-usual”) focuses on training children and their parents to overcome their skill deficits.
The studies proved that solution focused therapy patients showed a 75% improvement rate while those using ‘treatment as usual’ interventioned showed a 75% improvement rate. The hypothesis was not supported: solution-focused therapy did not surpass the “treatment-asusual”condition on outcome measures, although both groups made improvements over time. What I learned from this article was that the emphasis on solution-focused therapy is on strengths and resources. Questions in the model are designed to elicit how people already use their resources to resolve problems, and children and families are complimented on these strengths. Parents might have felt better about themselves and the treatment and felt more hopeful about the possibility of change; as a result, they may have felt more inclined to continue when compared to the treatment-as-usual comparison group.
Berg, I.K. (1994). Family-based services: A solution-focused approach. New York: W.W.
Norton & Company, Inc.
Nunnally, E. (1993). Solution focused therapy. In Casebook of the brief psychotherapies (pp.