Meet the team
Founder and Director of the Brief Therapy Institute of Sydney. A psychologist with an international reputation in Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Michael has consulted to counselling/therapy agencies and other organisations and teams in Australia and overseas and has presented professional development workshops in North America, Europe & Southeast Asia. Michael has had academic appointments in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, the School of Psychology at the (then) University of Western Sydney, and in the Clinical School of the Faculty of Medicine at Sydney University, and has been a visiting international faculty member on a Masters program at Fontys University in The Netherlands.
Michael has been a Consultant to the State of Georgia (USA) Department of Human Services on strength-based approaches to child and adolescent treatment, a consultant to the IFSO program (an intensive, in-home program, using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy with families with a child or adolescent with a disability, operated under the auspices of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance) and has been engaged to provide ongoing training and consultation in Solution Focused Brief Therapy to Mental Health Services in several Australian Health Districts and a number of different health boards in New Zealand. Michael was also consultant supervisor to the Step-by-Step program, which provided counselling to traumatised residents following the Blue Mountains Bush Fires, west of Sydney. He is currently engaged in a two-year Solution Focused training and supervision program with Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol services in a NSW health district.
Michael has published a number of books and professional articles. His books Residential treatment: A co-operative, competency-based approach to program design (about "competency-based" approaches to adolescent treatment) and Creative strategies for school problems (both published by W. W. Norton & Co in New York) have been translated into German, French, Dutch, Arabic and Japanese and his new book, Solution Focused practice: How do you do that? is due in January 2024.
Michael has conducted more than 700 professional training workshops and is widely sought after as a speaker and trainer. He has been an invited keynote/plenary speaker at the 2nd and 3rd Australian Family Strengths Conferences, the European Brief Therapy Conference, the Queensland Guidance and Counselling Association Conference, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy conference, the Victorian Child Protection Practice Conference, the Singapore Solution Focused Symposium 2009, and others. He was an invited keynote speaker at the International Training Conference in Brief Psychotherapies in Calicut, India in 2017. Michael is particularly known for his work applying Solution Focused Brief Therapy with clients experiencing a range of mental health difficulties and complex trauma.
He was founding President of the Australasian Association for Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (now the Australasian Solution Focused Association), was the founding Editor of the Journal of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy and was an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Psychologists in Schools.
Frances is a registered psychologist and accredited psychology supervisor and has experience with Solution-Focused Brief Therapy in a variety of settings.
With a background as a high school teacher in government and private schools in Queensland and in Canberra, Frances has worked in adolescent (and family) mental health, adult counselling and mental health and has been a counsellor, supervisor and trainer of counsellors with Lifeline. While in Canberra, she also taught counselling at Canberra Institute of Technology.
Frances presented at the European Brief Therapy Association (EBTA) Conference in Dresden, Germany, in 2011 (with family psychiatrist from Sweden, Harry Korman) and at the Australian and New Zealand Solution-Focused Conference on the Gold Coast in 2014. She co-wrote a paper with Michael Durrant which was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy in 2014. She was a keynote speaker (and workshop presenter) at the International Conference on Brief Psychotherapies in Calicut, India, in 2017.
At the Brief Therapy Institute of Sydney, Frances conducts professional training workshops and provides therapy to a range of adults and young people. She also provides supervision to a number of counselling and human services professionals, and a limited amount of intern psychologist supervision. She has a particular interest in how mindfulness fits with SFBT.
Associates of the Brief Therapy Institute
We are pleased to count the following people as colleagues, with whom we have a special relationship. While they operate independently, they have agreed to be official Associates of the Brief Therapy Institute.
Ian Johnsen — Senior Associate and consultant
Based in Wollongong, Ian is a psychologist with many years experience as a Solution-Focused therapist, trainer and consultant. Ian has a background in working with challenging adolescents (on the streets as well as in the counselling room) and has consulted to a number of adolescent out-of-home care programs. He is passionate about working for individuals and communities in a manner that promotes dignity and acknowledges human agency. For over 30 years, Ian has worked for people who have been socially marginalised and with families and youth facing adversity and seen as ‘at risk’ by child protection.
He also worked for a number of years as a school counsellor and has developed a number of Solution-Focused resources for working in schools. Ian is a key member of the Brief Solutions Strengths-in-Schools team.
As well as his commitment to Solution-Focused work, Ian is a proponent of "Response-based Practice" — an approach that elevates the responses shown by people who are subject to violence and abuse. He is an Associate of Sightlines, the Professional Services division of Domestic Violence Service Management — an organisation which provides support for people experiencing Domestic and Family Violence and homelessness.
Ian is available in the Illawarra region but also does some face-to-face work (counselling or supervision) via Skype. Ian may be contacted here.
David is a mental health nurse in Adelaide, South Australia and his innovative application of Solution-Focused ideas in the mental health emergency context won him the South Australian Premier's Nursing Scholarship (presented at the 2016 Nursing Excellence Awards). David is co-ordinator of the South Australian Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Community of Practice. At the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses 2018 conference in Cairns, it was announced that the ACMHN 2018 Australian Mental Health Nurse Achievement Award was awarded to David.
David was President of the Australasian Solution Focused Association until late 2022. He is the founder of Adelaide Solution-Focused consultancy Left Turn and may be contacted here.
Emma Burns is a psychologist in New Zealand and has used the Solution-Focused approach in a number of challenging contexts within the justice system — young offenders, family violence and suicide prevention. In her spare time, Emma has a small part time business focused on delivering free suicide prevention workshops to the general public, as well as very affordable professionals sessions. She also provides Solution-Focused clinical supervision. Email Emma here.
Emma is President of the Australasian Solution-Focused Association and was invited to be a keynote speaker at the European Brief Therapy Conference in Copenhagen in 2020 (unfortunately, cancelled because of COVID-19).