© Copyright 2005 - 2014 Cynthia Good Mojab
All rights reserved
LifeCircle Counseling and Consulting, LLC
Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, LMHCA, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM
Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate  │ International Board Certified Lactation Consultant  │ Registered Lactation Consultant  
Certified in Acute Traumatic Stress Management





  • Most problems do not require a great deal of gathering of historical information to resolve them.
  • The resolution of a problem does not require knowing what caused it.
  • Small changes lead to more changes.
  • With rare exceptions, clients are the most qualified people to identify the goal of therapy. (Exceptions include illegal goals [e.g., child abuse] and
    clearly unrealistic goals.)
  • Change and problem resolution can happen quickly.
  • There's always more than one way to look at a situation.

How Effective is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

According to Iveson (2002), "Since its origins in the mid-1980s, solution-focused brief therapy has proved to be an effective intervention across the
whole range of problem presentations. Early studies (de Shazer, 1988; Miller et al, 1996) show similar outcomes irrespective of the presenting
problem. In the UK alone, Lethem (1994) has written on her work with women and children, Hawkes et al (1998) and MacDonald (1994, 1997) on adult
mental health, Rhodes & Ajmal (1995) on work in schools, Jacob (2001) on eating disorders, O'Connell (1998) on counselling and Sharry (2001) on
group work." Kim's (2008) meta-analysis found solution-focused brief therapy effective for internalizing behavior problems. (Internalizing behavior
problems include depression.) The meta-analysis by Stams and colleagues (2006) found that 1) solution-focused brief therapy is as good as other
psychotherapeutic treatments, 2) the areas for which the best efficacy was found include personal behaviour change, and 3) more recent studies
showed the strongest effects. Gingerich and Peterson's (2013) review concluded that "[t]he strongest evidence of effectiveness came in the treatment
of depression in adults where four separate studies found SFBT to be comparable to well-established alternative treatments. Three studies examined
length of treatment and all found SFBT used fewer sessions than alternative therapies. Conclusion: The studies reviewed provide strong evidence that
SFBT is an effective treatment for a wide variety of behavioral and psychological outcomes and, in addition, it may be briefer and therefore less costly
than alternative approaches." More research on solution-focused brief therapy can be found

What are the Benefits and Risks of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

The benefits of solution-focused brief therapy include the finding of solutions to problems that the client has been facing. For example, symptoms of
stress, anxiety, and depression may be reduced and interpersonal relationships may be improved. Since, by definition, solution-focused brief therapy
is brief, it may be less expensive than other forms of therapy that traditionally require more sessions over a longer period of time. Another benefit of
solution-focused brief therapy is that clear goals are identified early on. Because of this, both client and counselor know what success will look like and
can more easily identify when therapy is no longer needed. As with all forms of therapy, solution-focused brief therapy may result in major life changes,
such as changing jobs, beginning or ending relationships, moving, etc. Such life changes can be experienced as quite positive (a benefit) or as very
difficult (a risk) by the client and/or the client's significant others. Solution-focused brief therapy can be done in conjunction with other forms of therapy.


Gingrich, W. and Peterson, L. Effectiveness of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: A Systematic Qualitative Review of Controlled Outcome Studies.
Research on Social Work Practice 1049731512470859, first published on January 27, 2013.  Abstract

Iveson, C. Solution-focused brief therapy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 2002; 8:149-156. Full text

Kim, J. S. Examining the effectiveness of solution-focused brief therapy: A meta-analysis. Research on Social Work Practice. 2008, 18(2), 107-116.

O'Hanlon, W. and Weiner-Davis, M. In Search of Solutions: A New Direction in Psychotherapy. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.: New York 1989.

Stams G., Dekovic M., Buist K., and de Vries, L. (2006)  Effectiviteit van oplossingsgerichte korte therapie: een meta-analyse (Efficacy of solution
focused brief therapy: a meta-analysis).  
Gedragstherapie 39(2):81-95.  (Dutch; abstract in English). Cited in Franklin, C., Trepper, T., Gingerich, W., and
McCollum, E. (eds)
Solution-focused Brief Therapy: A Handbook of Evidence-Based Practice. Oxford University Press: New York 2011.