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SOLUTION FOCUSED THERAPY-THE RIDE OF THEIR LIVES
SOLUTION FOCUSED THERAPY-THE RIDE OF THEIR LIVES
COUN 5232 Approach Gender Sexuality
Solution Focused Therapy-The Ride of their Lives
Solution focused brief therapy is a model that emerged from a philosophical linguistic
love affair. The 1980’s expanded from a linear dogmatic approach to therapy to one where
reality is written into existence. Lynn Hoffman united the experiential constructs of language and
meaning dismissing the ideals of an absolute truth. “The theoretical perspective of social
constructionism, as it relates to meanings of human experiences, maintains that people develop
their sense of what is real through conversation with and observation of others,” (Berg & De
Jong 1996 p 376). There for, experiences are created through meaning of language, thus
problems must also be of identical creation (Guise 2015).
History of Solution Focused Brief Therapy
In the latter years of the 1970’s a group of clinicians, primarily Steve De Shazer, Insoo
Berg and Miller, formed the Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC). The foundation of the
solution-focused theory was developed within the first two decades of BFTC, rooted in the
discovery that a solution was not an undiscovered mathematical equation waiting to be
identified; it was simply stored within one’s own convoluted story. In conceptualizing this case
study, similar to the success within decades of research done by Berg and De Shazer, it is a great
find to watch one master their prosperity. The conceptualized cases vary; the client’s worldview
differs, but the ability to construct new meanings for tomorrow is infinite (Berg & De Jong
A case study in the world of solutions is a map of roads that are intersected by
deconstruction, problematic views of reality that are rerouted by constructs of competence and
dissolution redefined by the couple’s goals of destination. Solutions therapy would be open to
exploring the couple’s travels jointly, listening to their problem-saturated story, and curiously
exploring the routes they have taken, the one-way streets and the inevitable dead ends. The only
way to tread forward, exploring the client’s travels is to learn by not being the expert on the ins
and outs of their road trip, the route they followed or the way they chose to travel. “Not knowing
requires that our understandings, explanations, and interpretations in therapy not be limited by
prior experiences or theoretical formed truths, and knowledge, the therapist does not know the
intent of any action, but rather must rely on the explanation made by the client,” (Thomas 2013 p
64). “By learning by curiosity, and by taking the client’s story seriously, the therapist joins with
the client in mutual exploration of the client’s understandings and experience,” (p 64).
Henry and Oni have come for marriage counseling presented with differing constructs of
meaning around their sexual relationship. Henry is a Caucasian, French-Canadian male who is
thirty-eight years of age and two years into his first marriage. Oni is a Nigerian, African
American Female forty-eight years of age and two years into her second marriage. Oni’s first
marriage ended after two years due to infidelity. Henry and Oni met through an online dating
service just shy of four years ago. The two express a great emotional bond while noting they
have had recent tension and fighting. While engaging with the clients they contend regarding
problems viewed in their sexual relationship. Henry conveys that he is depressed because Oni
rejects his intimate proposals while Oni is angered by his betrayal of infidelity to pornography.
Oni describes feeling cheap when he pursues her while she is resting. Henry would like the
frequency of their sexual relationship to increase and views pornography as a resource.
The Language of Solution Focused Therapy
Solution focused therapy identifies the problem saturated story within the context of the
clients language. Oni expresses Henry is cheating on her with white women and she feels like a
piece of meat when he attempts to engage in intercourse while she is sleeping. Henry expresses
rejection and depression around the kind of man he is. The client’s narratives focus on their
problem-saturated story, which is constructed by thoughts of infidelity, feeling devalued, rejected
and unsatisfied. Identifying their meaning of language is to explore and expand one’s own
culture to encapsulate theirs.
Solution Focused Clinical Approach
“While exploring the solution, it is essential to understand what previous, ongoing,
unsuccessful or partially successful solution attempts have been tried and failed,” (Green &
Flemons p 114).
“In solution focused interviewing, careful attention is focused on listening for and
exploring the client’s words and building the interview questions from the clients latest answer,”
(Berg & De Jong 1996 p 377). In the following dialogue the therapist will utilize solution-
focused conversations to allow the couple to envision a different future by respecting and
analyzing Oni and Henry’s words, indirectly highlighting success, affirming their perceptions,
trusting Oni and Henry’s expertise, acknowledging the depth of it and asking for Oni and
Henry’s definition of the problem. The dialogue will invite Oni and Henry to hone in on their
construction of competence around love, compliment their competence and adjust their focus to
exploring goals. With purposeful intent, cruising through misguided attempts of solutions so that
Henry and Oni can wander into exceptions will develop the goals.
Henry and Oni Assessment Approach
Solution focused therapy approaches assessments and treatment plans like navigating
through a suburban neighborhood. The signs are well placed, the streets are well lit and the
navigation highlights each turn. The narrative or problem saturated story is deconstructed into
viable goals based on the story conveyed. The therapist works towards exploring what is
beneficial, exploring resources, identifying the present by introducing the miracle question,
encouraging a concrete description of their miracle, and building onto Oni and Henry’s language
by strengthening their voice. The therapist assesses their goals by constructing meaning from
their illustrated journey. The goals are their own creations, their own ideas and their own
successes (Thomas 2013).
The therapist then distinguishes their successes in love, reinforces their view of
competence, introduces scaling question, compliment their ability to support one another, affirms
and compliment’s their goals, suggest tasks of objectives based on their constructions, and places
the couple in charge of discontinuing therapy (Thomas 2013).
Historical Views, Pathology or Promise
The ideas around sex and meanings of sex language (sexological worldview) has
undergone a drastic change in society over the last few decades with the expansion of sensually
based advertising, elite body imagery, sex education and generational liberation of sexuality. In
considering historical views, Henry and Oni may have been received with a pathologic
theoretical approach. The pathological perspective identifies a singular dysfunction seeking to
treat dysfunction in a method that presumably serves the client’s diagnosis. American Psychiatric
Association (2013) specifies diagnostic criteria for Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
F52.0, “Persistently or recurrently deficient sexual sexual/erotic thoughts or fantasies and desire
for sexual activity,” (p 440). “The symptoms have persisted for a minimum duration of six
months.” “The symptoms cause significant distress in the individual.” “The sexual dysfunction is
not better explained by a mental disorder or as a consequence of severe relationship distress or
other significant stressors and is not attributable to the effects of a substance or medication or
other medical condition,” (p 440). Henry’s specified arousal towards pornography may be
viewed in a linear context without identifying the couple’s strengths. The deficit based model
would scapegoat Henry while excluding empowerment of the couple’s own natural resources.
Diversity in Solution Focused Therapy
Solution Focused therapy is derived from meanings of culture and language embedded
deep within one’s soul. Language is one of the most important elements in deconstructing and
reconstructing one’s worldview. The Nigerian culture is a faith filled culture that teeters between
Christian beliefs to indigenous faith. “Sharia law was introduced into the northern Nigerian states
from 2000,” (People & Culture n.d.). “It is thought to have been drawn up by Muslim scholars in
the early centuries, with parts of it taken directly from the Koran.” The Sharia Law is said to be
code for principle around criminal laws. The Sharia Law holds some harsher penalties such as
death by stoning for infidelity (People & Culture n.d.). Oni’s culture may speak to her meanings
of infidelity, creating anxieties around possibly compromising her beliefs. The French-Canadian
culture is a very affectionate culture with an emphasis on relationships. Men and women
exchange kisses as a method of greeting, commonly use first names and may greet each other
with embrace. French Canadians also celebrate rites of passage such as birth, marriage and death
held within Roman Catholic traditions. Henry’s culture may very well be speaking to his desire
for affection. Clarifying meaning can be so profound that deconstructing the absence of meaning
may itself solve a fair weather riddle (French Canadians, Countries and their Cultures, n.d).
Treatment plans consist of the identified solution, the narrative for that solution, the goals, the
objectives, and the diagnosis. Treatment plan defined by American Heritage Dictionary (n.d.) is,
“an orderly step by step conception or proposal for accomplishing an objective.” Solution
focused therapy applies an assessment method comprised of solution focused strategies based on
the couples own natural resources. Natural resources are uncovered and identified as individual,
relational and contextual resources. Individual resources are conveyed through personal dreams,
values, self-esteem, and self-awareness and coping skills. Relational resources are conveyed
through shared dreams, shared material resources, partner understanding, couple history,
relationship skills, shared material resources and joint strategies of coping. Contextual resources
are conveyed through careers, cultural community resources, family of origin, economic status,
friends, and their extended social network (Murray & Murray Jr. 2004).
Identifying a name for the solution is a great basis for writing a treatment plan. The therapist asks
questions like “If concerns did not exist, what would your relationship look like,” “If you could
name one syllable to describe what you desire for your relationship what would that be?” and “If
a miracle were to happen and your marriage was exactly as you imagine it should be, what would
you notice?” in order to identify common themes and help the client envision and make those
themes concrete. Henry and Oni may name their treatment plan “intimacy.” Goals defined by
Dictionary.com (n.d.) as, “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.” The goals
and efforts of intimacy will be constructed from moments of exceptions, although directed
towards solutions. Exception based questions asked by the therapist such as “what about that
evening was different,” and “ did you know that Oni loves those intimate moments prior to
having sex, that she see’s you both as connected?” Exception questions focus on identifying
those unique outcomes. Objectives are described as “something that one’s efforts or actions are
intended to attain or accomplish; purpose; goal; target,” (Dictionary.com n.d.). The objectives
identify specifics making goals more concrete. The miracle question is a viable question for
helping the couple to visualize their solution with small tangible acts. Lastly is a diagnosis.
Henry and Oni have come to therapy for relationship distress and sex counseling. The DSM-5
has noted relational distress and sex therapy under other conditions that may be a focus of
clinical attention (Murray & Murray Jr. 2004).
Narrative: A relationship that has profound intimacy physically, emotionally, spiritually and
Goals and Objectives:
1) Increasing those moments of physical touching during non-sexual activities. Increase
physical forms of intimacy (hugging, kissing, holding hands, cuddling) throughout the
2) Sharing raw emotions during spiritual moments. Continue to share your desires and
fears when you sense a spiritual connection.
3) Psychologically stimulating each other during physical moments. Continue to explore
each other’s intimate dreams respectively.
4) Sharing intimate dreams. Continue telling one another what excites you when you are
1) Utilize the miracle question to elicit information for shared marital vision.
2) Utilize scaling questions to create a standard for the couple’s individual needs.
3) Utilize exception questions to uncover exceptions towards the solution.
Diagnosis: V61.10, Relationship distress with spouse or intimate partner. V65.49, Sex
Person of a Therapist
The person of a therapist would explore personal core issues identified as signature themes. In
identifying a signature theme, the therapist is able to increase knowledge of self, identify
personal meanings of triggers, their history and how they manifested. In addition, one can gain
access to their emotions, memories and associations in the current moment of processing
therapeutically. The person of a therapist would want to achieve a greater mastery of self
Solution Focused Therapy-The Ride of their Lives
Solution focused therapy, the ride of their lives. Life is full of ups and downs similar to
riding in a vehicle with roads that consist of curves and intersections. The passengers almost sigh
a sign of relief when they are traveling down a straight stretch. A solution-focused approach is an
approach that utilizes the curves, intersections and straights to help the passengers navigate more
straight stretches. In narrating their travels, we are able to guide the client to use their own
navigation system. The best way to navigate an end is by quote, the best destinations are found
during the most challenging journeys.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Sexual Dysfunctions. In Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Aponte, H. J. (2016). The Person-of-the-Therapist model. Retrieved March 12, 2016, from
Berg, I. K., & De Jong, P. (1996). Solution-building conversations: Co-constructing a sense of
competence with clients. Families in Society, 77(6), 376. Retrieved from
French Canadians, Countries and their Cultures. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from
Goals. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from Dictionary.com
Green, S. K., & Flemons, D. G. (2004). Quickies: The handbook of brief sex therapy (1st ed., 68-
85). New York, NY: W.W. Norton.
Murray, C. E., & Murray,Thomas L.,,Jr. (2004). SOLUTION-FOCUSED PREMARITAL
COUNSELING: HELPING COUPLES BUILD A VISION FOR THEIR MARRIAGE.
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People & Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.our-
Objective. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from Dictionary.com
Thomas, F. N. (2013). Shifts happen: A confluence of influence. Journal of Systemic Therapies,
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(2011). Retrieved March 15 2016 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/treatment+plan