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Solution-focused Brief Therapy in Schools


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Title: Solution-focused Brief Therapy in Schools

Solution-focused Brief Therapy in Schools
  • Cynthia Franklin, PhD, LCSW, LMFT
  • Assistant Dean for Doctoral Education
  • http//

Goals of Workshop
  • Understand core components of SFBT.
  • Learn how to follow a SFBT change process.
  • Discover and explore SFBT techniques for behavior
    change with children and adolescents
  • .

  • School setting?
  • Name?
  • Experience with SFBT?
  • What do you want from
  • this talk?

Photo by are you my rik?
SFBT A Strengths-based Approach
Solution-focused Practice Wisdom
  • It is better to practice a little than to talk a
  • Zen saying
  • Knowing and not doing are equal to not knowing
    at all.
  • Chinese saying
  • Also read the Book of the New Testament-Book of

SFBT A Strengths-based Approach
  • Conversations center on clients concerns.
  • Conversations focus on co-constructing new
    meanings around clients concerns.
  • Specific techniques help clients co-construct a
    vision of a preferred future and draw upon past
    success and strengths to help resolve issues.

Attitudes to Keep in Mind
  • Client is competent and expert on their life
  • Helper is collaborative (coach, facilitator)
  • Tentative connection between problem and

Warm-up Exercise
  • Pair off
  • Goal you had as a child
  • What? Who? How often? Where?
  • Influence on you as a child?
  • Influence on you now?

SFBT Approach in School Settings
  • Provides a way to use helping skills and can be
    used by an interdisciplinary team.
  • Offers transportable skills and change process.
  • Can be used in settings requiring brief
  • Has a foundation in research.

Research on SFBT
  • SFBT has been applied to a wide range of problems
    such as mental disorders, substance use, child
    protective services, domestic violence, and
    school-related behavior problems.
  • Overall, we have more than 25 RCTs and
    approximately 50 quasi-experimental studies
    (including 2 meta-analyses) and other recent
    narrative and systematic reviews of the
  • The outcome research to date shows SFBT to have a
    small to moderate positive outcome. When compared
    with established treatments in well-designed
    studies, SFBT is the equivalent of other
    approaches, and sometimes produces results in
    substantially less time and at less cost.

EBP Recognition
  • SAMHSAs National Registry on Evidence-Based
    Programs and Practices (NREPP) for treating
    substance abuse and mental health disorders.
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
    Prevention Model Programs Guide national registry
    as a promising intervention for academic
  • http//
  • Taking Charge intervention recognized by OJJDP
    and Crime

Available from Oxford University Press
Reviews of SFBT Research in Schools
  • Kim, J. S. Franklin, C. (2009).
    Solution- focused brief therapy in schools A
    Review of
  • Outcome Literature. Children and Youth
  • Services Review, 31, 461-47.
  • Franklin, C., Kim J. S., Tripodi, S. J. (2009).
  • A meta-analysis of published school social
  • work practice studies, 1980-2007. Research
  • on Social Work Practice, 19, 667.

Recent School Review
  • Franklin, C., Kim. J. S., Stewart-Brigman, K.
    (2012). Solution-focused brief therapy in school
    settings. In C. Franklin et al. (Eds.),
    Solution- focused brief therapy A Handbook of
    Evidence-based Practice (pp. 231-246). NY
    Oxford University Press.

Across Cultures Reviews from Taiwan and China
  • Zhang, Y., Liu, X., Franklin, C., Qu, Y., Chen,
  • H., Kim, J. S. (2015). The practice of
  • solution-focused brief therapy in
  • Mainland China. Health and Social Work.

Meta-Analysis on Latinos
  • Emerging Spanish practice literature 4 RCTs
    3 Quasi-
  • Experiments

Examples of SFBT Interventions for Schools
  • WOWW (Working on What Works)
  • A teacher coaching intervention piloted in
    Florida, Chicago, and Massachusetts 2005-2012.
  • Garza High School
  • Training a whole school in SFBT to promote
    graduation of at-risk students. Three studies
    (one quasi-experiment) and sustainment of
    intervention 2002-present.
  • Taking Charge
  • Curriculum for adolescent mothers to improve
    attendance and grades. Three studies that showed
    positive changes in school performance measures.
    One small RCT

Garza is a Model School
  • School culture
  • SFBT techniques transformed into school
  • Alternative school
  • Trans-disciplinary training of all staff on SFBT

Garza High School
  • School culture
  • SFBT techniques transformed into school
  • Alternative school
  • Trans-disciplinary training of all staff on SFBT

SFBT in School Application Garza Star Walk
Garza Star Walk Three Components
  • Presentation of the students completed academic
    portfolio before teachers, family, and friends.
    The portfolio presentation allows the students to
    discuss their academic skills and successes and
    show samples of their work.
  • Presentation of a Garza Star, which is an
    inscribed glass paper weight, that is given to
    each Garza graduate. At this presentation, the
    principal also tells an inspiring story about how
    much the student has changed since he/she came to
  • The student marches around the school with
    selected family members, friends, and teachers
    with accompanying music played over the campus
    speakers. During this march, the other students
    and teachers come out into the hall or stand in
    the doors of classrooms to applaud, cheer, and
    blow bubbles (Kelly, Kim, Franklin, 2008).

Garza Star Walk in Action
Taking Charge Treatment Manual
Taking Charge Group Intervention
  • SFBT 8 session group program for adolescent
    mothers SFBT CBT
  • Solution-focused goals and future tasks for
    helping students resolve everyday issues.
  • School-related skills and behaviors that increase
    their chance of graduating from high school.
  • Social problem-solving skills for managing
    difficult situations.
  • Proactive coping for managing school, parenting,
    and relationship problems, as well as preparing
    for a career.

From Problem Solving to Solution Building
  • Keep talking
  • Im diagnosing you

Solution Process
How Solution Build
  • Constructive use of language
  • Selective listening
  • Solution-talk
  • Korman, H., Bavelas, J. B., De Jong, P. (2013).
  • Microanalysis of formulations in solution-
    focused brief therapy, cognitive behavioral
    therapy, and motivational interviewing. Journal
    of Systemic Therapies, 32, 32-46.

Solution-focused Listening
  • Attentive listening to the persons story
  • Intentional listening What the person wants
  • to be different
  • Strengths and resources
  • Attributes you can compliment
  • Ways change is already happening
  • Small steps and ways to get started
  • Directional listening Move stories toward
    solution talk instead of problem talk

Intentional Listening
  • Record the persons words/meanings for
  • Problem description
  • Strengths and resources
  • Who and what are important to the person
  • What the person might want
  • What are some ways you can compliment this

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Solution-talk Not Problem Talk
Listen, Select and Build Solution Focused
  • What tells you that (echo persons words)?
  • Tell me more about (echo persons words)?
  • So is really important to you.
  • So what you want to see different is ?
  • Suppose that were to happen
  • How would be helpful?
  • What difference would make for?
  • Could that happen? What would it take?

Not Knowing Instead of Knowing it All
Watch Your Language
  • Questions and the way you use words change the
    way people think and respond.
  • Language is not neutral.
  • Healing, S., Bavelas, J. (2011). Can questions
    lead to change? An analogue experiment. Journal
    of Systemic Therapies, 30(4), 30-47.

Opening Questions that Build Solutions
  • What has to happen today for it to be worth your
    time to come and talk?
  • Suppose after we talk today that your life would
    be different, what would have to happen?

(No Transcript)
Other Useful Questions
  • How is this a problem for you?
  • When you solve this problem, how will it make a
    difference for you?
  • What will be different in your life?

Watch Your Language Questions Matter
  • Divide into dyads client and helper
  • Conduct a normal interview about a problem (5-10
  • What brought you in today?
  • How long has the problem been going on?
  • What have you done to solve the problem?

Watch Your Language Questions Matter
  • Tell me about the times when this problem is a
    little bit better?
  • How did you make this happen? What else?
  • What are you doing differently during those times
    when things are a little bit better?
  • What would your best friend (teacher, sibling,
    etc.) tell you when things are going a little bit
    better for you?

Questions that Promote Competencies
  • I am sure you have good reasons for your actions.
    Tell me what some of those good reasons are.
  • Tell me what accomplishments you are most proud
  • What I am hearing is that you are able to.
  • What I see about you is that you are good at

Focus on Competencies
  • Turn something potentially negative into
    something positive.
  • Example
  • Client I left the class because I was pissed and
    she would not leave me alone. I was going to lose
    my temper.
  • Counselor You took a time out to keep from
    blowing-up at her. Where did you learn that type
    of self-control? Some kids would have just
    cursed her out.

Other Questions that Promote Competencies
  • I wonder if your teacher knows how much you
  • Who knows these positive things about you?
  • Is there anything else that I forgot to ask that
    is important to you?
  • When the client says something positive about
    themselves or othersinterrupt say that again.

Personal Strength or Positive Character in
Negative Responses
  • Example
  • Client My teacher hates me. She is like the
    devil. I hate her because she wants me to fail.
  • Counselor And you resist. Wow! You have got a
    lot of practice with her. I bet you have really
    good resistance skills. Where did you learn to be
    so strong? Do you think your teacher knows that
    you are so strong and determined?

  • SFBT Video Example

Photo by Steven Depolo
Goal Formulation Principles
  • Co-construct goals that are
  • Important to the person
  • Smaller not larger
  • Concrete, specific, behavioral
  • Presence of not absence of
  • Start of not end of
  • Perceived by client as involving hard work
  • Describe who does what when and how

Goal and Task Questions
  • Questions to practice
  • How could you do more of that this week?
  • What would happen if you did ___? What would she
  • You are already doing X, which she likes. What
    if you started doing Y too? Would that make a
  • You have a big goal. What would be a small step
    towards making that goal a reality?
  • What do you think is a small step you could take
    that the teacher would notice?

Using Scaling to Set a Goal
  • Develop a scale from 1-10 with the client. Refer
    back to scale as needed.
  • Establish two concrete behavioral descriptions or
    self-anchors that describe the problem and its
  • Obtain rating from the client on where they
    perceive they are on the scale today.
  • Ask the client how they will get to the next

Miracle Question
  • Lets suppose that a miracle happened overnight
    and the problem you are having with your teacher,
    parent, etc. disappeared. But you were sleeping
    and did not know it. When you get up the next
    day, what would be the first thing that you would
    notice that is different?
  • Helps the client envision a new way of behaving
    and how things could be different.
  • Follow up with how would that be different
    questions and relationship questions.

How to Set Goals and Tasks
  • SFBT Video Example Continued

End of the Meeting
  • Give 4-5 genuine compliments to the person.
  • Offer a set of meaningful reflections or a
    concrete behavioral task for the person to work
    on that week.
  • Obtain a commitment from the person to do a task.
  • Communicate that you will follow-up on their
  • Set another meeting time if appropriate.

Use Solution-focused Forms
  • Teacher information for students sheet
  • Student information for teachers sheet
  • Notes to your students and parents
  • Goals at every meeting
  • Garza Manual http//

SFBT Review
  • Co-constructs positive conversations, thinking,
    images, and behaviors.
  • Focuses on strengths in the present or
    possibilities in the future. What has been
    working? What are the next steps that will be
  • Listens intentionally for competencies and
    possibilities for change.
  • Purposefully selects responses to create change
  • Facilitates interactions with people in ways that
    enable them to build their own solutions.

Thank You! Contact Cynthia Franklin, PhD, LCSW