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Defining the Focus in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

Michael D Reiter, Ronald J Chenail


This paper explores an often underrepresented aspect of solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT): the notion of focus. The view that the focus in SFBT is on solution development is often overrepresented, and it seems that the evolving relational focus of SFBT needs to be put in the foreground. That is, there is a recursive relationship between the client’s focus and the therapist’s focus. In the beginning of therapy, the therapist pays attention to the client’s focus—usually problem discussion. Once the therapist acknowledges the client’s current position, the client is better able to pay attention to the therapist’s alternative focus—solution development. In this paper, we utilize a case transcript of Insoo Kim Berg, one of the developers of SFBT, to demonstrate how the relational focus moves the session forward toward client change. We conclude by suggesting that future SFBT treatment manuals and textbooks include the importance of having a relational focus when using SFBT in order to uphold the integrity and quality of the SFBT model.


solution-focused brief therapy; focus; recursiveness; relational focus


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DOI: 10.14335/ijsfp.v4i1.27

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