Tuesday, 17 February 2009

SFBT application: world, people, self

The increasing mindfulness of the SFBT assumptions, theories and the underpinning philosophy has influenced my view about the world, people and self. Consequently, what I chose to see and think are about process, becoming and doing, within which I now tend to focus on existing strengths, exceptions and preferred future for they precipitate actions. This can be a contradictory view to that of the conventional one, of which most of us have been nurtured into thinking and behaving.

This new language that I think with has drawn me to see humanity as something which is constantly in the process of change and shift. As the natural world yieldingly follows its pattern of change, the social world is also undergoing a constant process of change manufactured by human interventions, manipulations and creativities. Amidst this, we the manufacturers and conductors of the social world fall victim to the conditions that we have created, then we construct concepts as depression, anxieties, fear and schizophrenia etc as answers for unpleasant effect of some experiences that has put us in an un-resourceful state.

During my daily interactions with people, I capture some of these moments and can see pictures of how the social actors fall victims of their own directed acts. Viewing the conditions with the SF perspective, as if I de-construct the situations and critically view the situations as what could have been, and would be better. At the same time, I see a self as perceived by others, as listener and helper. Perhaps it is due to my attention in working through the fibres of interactions with people, that I am placed in a seemingly helping role.

This three dimensional way of viewing interactions involves frequent theorisations of what is happening in front of me. How things are theorised reflect the person who is doing the theorising. that shows the values and beliefs of the author and how she sees herself or perhaps prefers to be seen.

The process of theorising and expressing thoughts requires the use of language, and how it is represented requires the purposeful choice of language that eventually conveys preferred meaning. By this, my increasing awareness of the work of representation has helped me to construct realities that I want others to see and for myself to believe. So, there may be a constancy of self that is sustained by own value and belief system which is also under a constant process of changing and shifting. However, how this self is perceived by others and by myself is fluid; it depends on the context I am in and how I choose to be represented according to my own preferences at the time.

The close relationship between my awareness of the work of representation and my ability to be a surveyor of self, has given me the power of managing the social environment around me, and of regulating my own emotions. Examples such as in communicating with my students, in participating activities with various groups and in helping clients in counselling sessions.

It seems that, aided by my choice of representations, as if I can summon up any emotions I want to feel, my eyes can well up with emotional tears when I drive to work and listen to music in the car, for it sometimes transports me to another world of another dimension where I see majestic mountains and the northern lights even amidst the city roads of rush hour traffic. Or more practically, I would consciously count my blessings or focus on the immediate task when I feel bothered by thoughts that would send me even slightly into an anxious state.

The world outside is amusing, the world outside is frightening’, is a lyric of a Chinese song. The space that encloses me, the events that happen independently from me or that I have the influence of, is the world outside on which I ascribe meaning: amusing, frightening, challenging, intimidating, loving, caring etc. etc. So how I sense the outside world is determined by how I want it to be represented, the representation of which then becomes reality to me.

Isn’t this what SFBT is all about? The central idea is to symbolically help to construct a preferable world by drawing on representations that would assist in the creation of it, and that to people concerned it can become a better reality as opposed to the parallel reality they originally came with.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Solution Focused Brief Therapy's place in the discourse of psychotherapy

Since Sigmund Freud initiated the 'talking therapy' in counselling, he had brought the focus onto the importance of language. Through dialoguing, the trained psychoanalysts are supposed to be able to detect the deepest thought of their clients, and by the same method, the clients are meant to be helped. However, the 20th century saw the strong emphasis and faith in science, empirical evidence seemed far more valid than the subjective interpretation of behaviour, so it had put Behaviourism on the equal footing as Psychodynamics.

The Behaviourist and Psychoanalytic approaches dominated psychological thought for the first half of the century. Later, the Humanistic approach emerged, and had diverted the focus from the uncounscious behaviour and the measurement of the observable to the individual experiencing person. The Humanistic perspective reflected the current political and social atmosphere of the 1950s and 60s, the two eras seen as the dawn of the awareness of individualism. Meanwhile, the Cognitive approach also took root, its object of investigation, mental processes, filled the gap left by the behaviourists.

Since these are psychological perspectives that investigate human behaviour, therefore, they assume an essentialist view. Directly, this view has influenced the application of related psychotherapy practices. Hence, the related psychotherapy practices assume a 'problem' and the cause of it as positivistic.

Whilst they together became the regime of knowledge of the psychotherapy discourse, the Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) emerged in the 1980s, moving away from the restriction of the traditional diagnostic and cure approach to problem. Instead, it focuses on the solution and emphasises goal setting to achieve it. Through out the process, it incorporates the psychological and sociological knowledge in carrying out the interaction with clients. The interaction is by way of skilful diagloguing that is viewed as constructing a preferred reality with the clients.

SFBT is a relatively new approach that seems to be born out of the ideological currency of the time in similar manner to its predecessors. The beginning of the 21st century heralds a break with the effect of the last century politically and socially as real-time communications, together with a globalisation of disciplines and ideas carried by homogenised computer technologies etc. have compressed time and geographic-cultural distances between countries. Different cultures, values and beliefs are brought together through borrowed time and space. Whether SFBT, or indeed all the other therapeutic models, is ready for the cultural change in society, would be dependent on whether any of them has the potential for change. The jury is still out considering a verdict.