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.

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