Counselling and psychotherapy practice play an important part in terms of the provision of effective counselling services to clients, who have serious psychological problems and need the assistance of professional therapists. At the same time, approaches to counselling and psychotherapy practice vary consistently since therapists use different theoretical framework in their practice to provide their services to clients. The development of counselling and psychotherapy theories contributed to the enhancement of available services and policies to ensure the high quality of services being delivered to clients and it is up to counsellors to choose the best theory or approach to apply in their practice. In this regard, it is possible to distinguish the solution focused brief therapy as one of the most effective approaches to deliver counselling services to clients. This therapy has features that may be traced in other therapies that have been already developed before, especially those grounded on the social constructivism theoretical framework.
Nevertheless, this therapy is effective enough, as the experience of the application of this therapy in the UK proves. At any rate, researchers (Berg & Dolan, 2002) admit that this therapy is quite effective in terms of helping clients to cope with their problems through empathy and support from the part of the counsellor. Nevertheless, traditional therapies, such as the person centred therapy, are still popular and widely-applied because they have also proved their effectiveness and many therapists are confident in the reliability of this therapy. Therefore, today, best practices in the field of counselling and psychotherapy combine new, advanced approaches, such as the solution focused brief therapy and traditional, time tested approaches, such as the person centred therapy, but still therapists choose the therapy on the ground of their professional experience and specific case of each client to maximise the effectiveness of the therapy.
Solution focused brief therapy
The solution focused brief therapy is a relatively new therapy that emerged in the 2000s and has become quite popular recently. The solution focused brief therapy focuses on the collaborative interaction between the counsellor and the client. The counsellor prepares well-constructed questions to get insight into clients’ problems and, then, prepare questions that lead the client to the identification of possible ways to overcome their problems. In such a way, the counsellor steadily leads the client to the realization that he/she can cope with his/her problems (Poyrazli, 2003). At the same time, the counsellor also helps the client to understand his/her problems and come prepared to confront them. As the client resolves problems posed by the counsellor in the course of the therapy, the client learns to overcome his/her problems successfully. After the end of the therapy, the client simply applies the learned experience to real world situations and overcomes his/her problems successfully. Therefore, the solution focused brief therapy focuses on the present and the future of the client to help the client to overcome his/her problems, although the counsellor needs to have the background information about the past of the client to understand the essence of his/her problems.
The solution focused brief therapy involves the creation of the comfortable ambiance which helps the client to feel relaxed and respond to questions of the counsellor accurately and consciously. At the same time, the therapy does not involve questions only. Instead, the counsellor may also use the problem-free talk to enhance the contact with the client and help the client to increase his/her self-awareness and self-esteem. In such a way, the client feels more confident and certain in his/her capability to cope with his/her problems. The therapy orients the client on his/her ability to cope with his/her problems not only in the present but also in the future, even without the assistance of the counsellor.
Solution focused brief therapy’s transfer across cultures
The application of the solution focused brief therapy may raise certain problems in different cultural environment. In other words, the solution focused brief therapy may raise certain problems in the applicability of this theory in different cultures. Possible conflicts with cultural views are one of possible challenges for the effective application of the solution focused brief therapy in different countries or communities. Conflicts emerge because of different cultural views of therapists and clients as well as the overall different cultural background of the country, where the solution focused brief therapy is applied. For example, some cultures have a very restrictive view on the revelation of the personal information of clients (de Shazer, 2007). They may feel uncomfortable to respond to some personal questions posed by the counsellor which are essential to understand the problem of the client. As a result, clients may not reveal all the information to the counsellor that may prevent the counsellor from the development of the effective course of treatment of the client.
Solution focused brief therapy and its match with religious and cultural views is also very important but, in some cases, religious views and beliefs of clients may raise certain barriers on the way of therapists to the effective treatment of clients and helping them to cope with their problems (Lipchik, 2002). Religious and cultural views and beliefs have a considerable impact on the behaviour of clients as well as counsellors. Some cultures imply more open relations and interaction between clients and counsellors, while others tend to more restricted and reserved relations and interaction between them. Moreover, religious beliefs and practices often interfere into counselling and psychotherapeutic practices.
Often religion becomes an important part of the life of believers and they use priests or their religious institutions instead of counsellors. In such a situation, priests often discourage clients from attending therapists, because this leads to the loss of their believers. Instead, priests attract clients and attempt to deliver counselling services to them grounded on their religious philosophy and practices. In such a situation, the direct competition between religious and therapists, who use the solution focused brief therapy emerges (Trepper, et al., 2006). The solution focused brief therapy is particularly vulnerable to such competition because this therapy provides the support to clients and raises their self-confidence and their ability to overcome their problems. In such a situation, religious institutions and priests attempt to retain believers and provide them with counselling services through religion because this will help them to spread their religious beliefs and to maintain the popularity of religion among believers. Believers turn to religion, when they receive extensive counselling support from priests and from religious beliefs and practices.
They develop the positive experience and gain psychological stability with the help of religion. In such a situation, the assistance of professional counsellors become unnecessary to them and, as a rule, is discouraged by priests. Therefore, the religious background may have a considerable impact on clients and affect them consistently. What is more, they have a considerable impact on the solution focused brief therapy and delivery of the therapy by therapists because clients with a strong religious background often choose between their religious practices and support of priests, on the one hand, and between the assistance of the therapist.
At the same time, the cultural background and cultural specificities of some countries is quite challenging and has a considerable impact on the solution focused brief therapy. The solution focused brief therapy correlation may be quite challenging with regard to Chinese culture, which is collectivist culture in its essence. The collectivist culture of China implies the large scale social support. Such specificity of Chinese culture implies that clients are very concerned with their image in the public eye and the attitude of their social environment is very important for them. This is why it may be very challenging for the therapist to find the effective approach to the client in terms of the solution focused brief therapy (Rogers, Lyon, & Tausch, 2013). The client may feel being very restricted because of his/her focus on his/her social environment, while the therapist need to uncover actual problems of the client. The client may be unwilling to cooperate with the therapist because of the fear of losing face in regard to the therapist or his/her social environment, including family members, friends, colleagues, and others.
At the same time, Chinese culture may facilitate the use of the solution focused brief therapy due to a significant role of the social environment of Chinese people. In this regard, therapists may use the collectivist background of Chinese clients to provide them with the positive feedback and support in terms of the therapy (Greenberg, et al., 2001). Such support from the part of the therapist is very important for Chinese clients because the social recognition and support is very important for them in their traditional culture. The recognition of the client and his/her achievements by the therapist will definitely have a positive impact on the client.
The cultural background of clients is, therefore, very important for the effective delivery of the solution focused brief therapy. In this regard, the most challenging is the delivery of the solution focused brief therapy in cases, when the therapist has clients with different cultural background. In such a situation, cultural gaps may be very significant. Moreover, cultural differences affect the effectiveness and the overall delivery of the solution focused brief therapy to clients with different cultural background (Cooper, et al., 2007). In such a situation, therapists should take into consideration differences between his/her cultural background and that of his/her clients. If therapists ignore those differences, they may face considerable difficulties with the effective delivery of the solution focused brief therapy to clients. This is why therapists should study the cultural background of their clients first to be able to apply the solution focused brief therapy effectively. The understanding of the cultural background of clients is important for the proper organisation of the work of the therapist with the client and the development of the proper strategy of the solution focused brief therapy.
Practical psychotherapeutic application of solution focused brief therapy in comparison with person centred therapy
The therapist, who uses the solution focused brief therapy, may focus on the application of the theory to help the client to cope with anxiety. In this regard, the solution focused brief therapy involves several key steps to be made in the course of the treatment of anxiety in the client. In fact, the solution focused brief therapy focuses on addressing the anxiety and the willingness of the client to cope with the anxiety by means of the development of a serious of problems the client has to resolve, while the therapists makes the observation to focus on the future and present of the client to help the client to find the proper solution to his/her anxiety problem and develop effective approaches to the solution of his/her problems. In this regard, the first step for the therapist is to prepare a series of questions that will help the therapist to understand the essence of the problem and, at the same time, will help to prepare the client to the understanding of his/her problem as well (Bruno, 1977). In the course of responses to those questions, the client should come to the point, when he/she realizes causes of his/her anxiety rooted in his/her past.
At the same time, responses to the questions should help the client to form a strong belief that all problems can be resolved. In such a way, the next step is overcoming the anxiety of the client by the realization of the ability of the client to cope with his/her anxiety (Lutz & Bodmer, 2013). The client should realize that he/she can cope with anxiety and to receive the support of the therapist and feel the empathy from the part of the therapist. In such a way, the client develops social experience that helps to develop a positive behavioural patterns based on the social support from the part of the therapist, who grants empathy and support for the client. The client becomes aware that he/she is capable to overcome his/her anxiety and can count on the support of his/her social environment as well as on his/her own behaviour which may be anxiety free.
In contrast, the person centred therapy involves a different approach to the treatment of anxiety in the client. The person centred therapy implies that the therapist helps the client to realize how he/she develops anxiety and how he/she is affected by various factors that increase his/her anxiety. In such a way, the client becomes aware of his/her vulnerability to anxiety and comes to the point, when he/she realizes his/her vulnerability and factors that affect his/her anxiety. In this regard, the person centred therapy is oriented on the client and his/her realization of his/her vulnerability to anxiety, whereas the solution focused brief therapy focuses on the social support of the client from the part of the therapist, who manifests his/her empathy and provides the client with support. In such a way, the person centred therapy and the treatment of anxiety is intrinsically oriented because the client realizes risk factors that trigger anxiety and learns to confront or avoid them. Instead, the solution focused brief therapy is extrinsically oriented, because the therapist grants the client with support and helps to confront his/her anxiety and overcome it with the help of problems the client has solved in the course of the therapy. These problems teach the client to cope with anxiety and become aware in his/her capability to cope with anxiety on his/her own.
Thus, the solution focused brief therapy is a very effective therapy that focuses on the assistance and support provided by the therapist to the client and focus on present and future of the client along with the development of the confidence of the client and his/her ability to cope with his/her problems. The development of the solution focused brief therapy involves the creation of a series of questions and communication between the therapist and the client to get insight into problems of the client and build up the confidence of the client through posing questions and problems that the client has to respond and to solve and to learn how to overcome his/her problems successfully. In such a way, they develop a positive experience and learn to cope with their problems successfully. At the same time, the effectiveness of the solution focused brief therapy depends on many factors, among which it is possible to single out religious and cultural background of clients that may have a very significant impact on clients and their attitude to counselling and services delivered by the therapist.
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