A Mental Health Moment: A Solution-Focused Approach

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC, Licensed Mental Health Therapist

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

The Truth Contributor 

Finding solutions is the goal of mental health counseling.  Individuals seeking counseling express great concern over issues having affected them much in the past and now in the present.  During the first session, which is an assessment of the individual’s history including family, medical, social, education and employment contexts, the first question asked is the presenting problem “why are you seeking counseling?”  The last question asked is often “what are some goals you want to achieve during counseling?”

Solution-Focused Therapy is a future and goal-directed approach to assist individuals in solving problems.  The focus is on the individual’s health but not the problem, on strengths not on weaknesses or limitations and on skills, resources and coping abilities to assist in reaching goals.

Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) can be used to treat mental health problems such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem
  • Stress (Personal/Work related)
  • Substance abuse/ addiction
  • Relationship problems

SFT is best used when an individual is trying to reach a particular goal, or overcome a particular problem.  The techniques utilized are:  1 – The Miracle Question – when you wake up tomorrow and realized your life was perfect what would that look like?  2 – Coping Question – how have you coped in the past with this particular issue and continued to function?  3 – Exceptions to the problems – When has this problem not presented a barrier to your life, describe what was going on?  4 – Compliments – Identifying and acknowledging strengths – That’s great to hear that you were first to apologize to your sister! 5 – Scaling Questions – On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being least and 5 being most, rate the severity of the issue.

Take a mental health moment to try out the miracle question for a current problem/issue in your life.  If you have been on the fence about starting counseling or returning to counseling, this may assist you in getting an idea of how things can be better.  While not all counselors utilize SFT, the presenting problem and goals should be clear by the end of the assessment.  You will just have a head start on the bigger goal (solution) as sometimes that solution does seem to be in the necessity of a miracle.

Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.  Provide feedback or reach out at graham.bernadette@gmail.com  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929 (Telehealth is available for ongoing and new clients at this time as well as in person appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606 www.bjgrahamcounseling.com