Solution Focused Brief Therapy — MNCLHD Alcohol and Other Drugs Service

Last updated 11 PM, 31 January 2024


This page contains additional resources following the Solution Focused Brief Therapy training. The page will be updated throughout the two years of the Solution Focused project, so you may want to come back here every now and then.

The first time you come here after Solution Focused training, please click the link to the online feedback form.

Training feedback

We would be grateful if you would complete the brief online feedback form about the training. This will provide feedback to Michael and to David and the LHD.

Introductory training. The feedback form is available   HERE  . When you click "Submit", you will be returned to this page.

Consolidation training. The feedback form is available  HERE . When you click "Submit", you will be returned to this page.


Additional Solution Focused resources

Click on each button to download the PDF file (you may need to right-click and choose "save file"). By clicking on any of the download links, you are agreeing that you will not distribute or share the documents.


Additional notes from Michael's presentation   DOWNLOAD PDF 

Beginnings — a chapter from Michael's forthcoming book   DOWNLOAD PDF

Post-traumatic success — a chapter from Michael's forthcoming book    DOWNLOAD PDF   

At your best — a paper from our colleagues at BRIEF in London about the use of description   DOWNLOAD PDF

Focused description development — the "theoretical" paper by my colleagues in London about the use of extensive description of the preferred future  DOWNLOAD PDF 

A blog post by Michael on the experience of being a Solution Focused client   LINK

The paper by Frances Huber and Michael Durrant about clients' experiences of "the break" and the "end-of-session summary"  DOWNLOAD PDF

Paper by Frank Thomas on compliments in SFBT   DOWNLOAD PDF

Webinar (on YouTube) by Haesun Moon discussing Solution Focused use of language   LINK  


Different thoughts about using Solution-Focused ideas

Link to an online post by Evan George about the question "How does that make you feel?"    LINK

Link to a blog post from Michael that reflects on the use of the question "How did you do that?" (Note: This blog post is about working with the effects of trauma. However, the main point is about the power of the question "How did you do that?".)  LINK

Link to an interview with David Hains, mental health nurse, about using Solution Focused ideas in the Emergency Department    LINK  

Articles related to alcohol and other drugs

de Shazer & Isebeart — The Bruges model: A Solution Focused approach to problem drinking   DOWNLOAD PDF  

McCollum — Solution Focused group therapy for substance abuse   DOWNLOAD PDF  

Nelle — Solution and resource-oriented addiction treatment with the choices of abstinence or controlled drinking   DOWNLOAD PDF  

Pichot — Co-creating solutions for substance abuse   DOWNLOAD PDF  

Smock — Solution Focused group therapy for level 1 substance abusers    DOWNLOAD PDF  

Solution Focused groups

Paper by Banks on Solution Focused groups with adolescent "bullies" —  DOWNLOAD PDF 

Froerer — Solution Focused groups with people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS    DOWNLOAD PDF  

McCollum — Solution Focused Group Therapy for Substance Abuse   DOWNLOAD PDF  

Hardenberg — Solution Focused group work in mental health   DOWNLOAD PDF  

Research on SFBT

There is now a comprehensive, searchable database of SFBT research    HERE  .


Ratner, H., George, E. & Iveson, C. (2012). Solution Focused Brief Therapy: 100 key points & techniques. London: Routledge.  AVAILABLE HERE

Shennan, G. (2014). Solution-Focused practice: Effective communication to facilitate change. London: PalgraveMacmillan.  AVAILABLE HERE

Recommended book about working with suicide. Fiske, Heather (2008) Hope in action: Solution-Focused conversations about suicide. New York: Routledge. Available as an E-book on Amazon for Kindle HERE 

Michael's new book

Michael's book, Solution Focused practice: How do you do that? will be published soon. Sign up on our home page to receive an email when it is available and to receive special prepublication discount.

Australasian Solution Focused Association

Link to web site HERE

The new page for the Journal of Solution Focused Practices is  HERE 


Things clients say — and how we might respond

 “I need to understand why I’m drinking”.

Okay. My experience is that there are LOTS of reasons why people keep drinking too much, and it is not always easy to figure out exactly why a particular person keeps drinking too much. It MIGHT be related to something that happened earlier in your life … or it might not. It MIGHT be related to particular stresses in your life … or it might not. So, you’re thinking that you need to understand why you keep drinking in order to be able to stop. As I said, I’m not sure how easy it is to figure out exactly why you keep drinking; but I’m interested that you seem really clear that you want to stop. How come?

How are you hoping that stopping drinking will make a difference?


“The doctor told me that you’d be able to give me some tips and strategies to stop drinking”

Okay, and I’m very happy to tell you some of the things that some others of my clients have said worked for them. But I’m interested that you’re wanting some strategies to stop drinking?

So, you’ve already decided you should stop. How did you make that decision?

Before we discuss particular strategies, how are you hoping tht stopping drinking will make a differece? (Get AS MUCH DETAIL as possible. Lots of, “How else will that make a difference?”  and, “What will your wife notice?” questions.)

Then, you might go on and discuss/suggest strategies, but do it tentatively and ask lots of, “How do you think that would make a difference for you?”


“I need you to tell me how to cope with the cravings”

Okay, and I’m happy to tell you some of the things that other people have told me helped them cope with the cravings. But, before we do that, what re some of the thigs that you have done to cope with the cravings — even just a little bit?


Writing notes in a Solution Focused way

When I worked in a large public hospital, I would write notes in peoples’ medical record. I would use subheadings:

  • Problem that lead to patient attending
  • How they would know that our service has been helpful
  • Strengths, exceptions, resources
  • The preferred future (how the patient would like her life to be)
  • Scaling

I’m sure lots of other people thought these notes were stupid; however, that was not of great concern to me (there were lots of ways in which they thought I was stupid!).

Remember, they are called “Progress notes”, so you should expect to write about progress and not just about the problem.


How do we do an assessment in a Solution Focused way?

Remember, from a “purist” Solution Focused perspective, the fundamental assessment is “how does this person want things to be?”

However, you are required to assess various aspects of the problem (details of the drug or alcohol use, etc.)

First, Brett has flagged that you need to have a discussion, as a service, at some point in the future, about whether or not you need to think about your drug & alcohol assessments differently.

Second, remember my example from the Introductory training about the inpatient detox program whose assessment was “how will the judge know when you don’t need to be here anymore?”

Third, remember the SF scale that I included in the notes from the SECOND training. The scale is available HERE.


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