I am going to illustrate this with a little example. When a man or a woman comes to consult me to get rid of an alcohol problem, then a solution focused doctor or therapist will ask to the moments where the patients did feel somewhat in control of his or her drinking behavior. He will then take a strong interest in how the patient did this. This is something he does because he assumes that, someone who gains more insight into his own success strategy, gains larger chances of repeating this successful behavior, not matter how small it might be at the start. The solution focused psychologist, doctor, or therapist will mainly pay attention to the things which the client already does which helps them move toward their own goal. This strongly contrasts with some other types of therapy, where the therapist will mainly look at analyzing the problem or the past of the patient. The problem focused therapy assumes that focusing on problems helps solve them. And sometimes he is right. This does definitely help in some cases.

What happens to your self-confidence during a solution focused talk?

Imagine that someone is asking you about all your failures or problems for half an hour or an hour. How will you feel after this conversation? And how would this impact your motivation to do something about it? You are likely to leave with a lot of negative energy and with less self-esteem than you had when you arrived. Instead, imagine that you talk about your successes and talents for half an hour with someone who asks enthusiastic questions about these. How will you energy and self-esteem respond to this? You can count on walking out with the courage to do something with your life - definitely when you have it difficult.

How does a solution focused therapist do this then?

A solution focused therapist, psychologist, doctor, or other healthcare provider will, first of all, listen closely to you so that he understands you. Then, he will mainly ask you specific questions about your talents and what you are already doing right. These are called solution focused questions. Questions which, with their answer, wake up parts of the solution in the mind of the client.

And how does an online solution focused self-help program on the internet work then?

A good solution focused online self-help program will mainly focus on asking very specific solution focused questions. The goal of these solution focused questions are to re-locate your attention to that which you already are able to do and what you do well, so that you learn to (once again) discover how you can apply your own solutions in this specific situation.

Test yourself for problem focused stress

Would you like to know to what extent stress, tension, anxiety, or even depressed feelings play a role in your life? Then you can easily test yourself by filling out a simple test with 21 short questions.

Paul Koeck, MD