Brief History of SFBT

Solution Focused Brief Therapy began in the 1970s largely with the work of Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. It developed from the focus of identifying what works in therapy rather than from theory about what should work. Steve de Shazer was highly influenced by the work of Milton Erickson through reading Jay Haley’s Strategies of Psychotherapy. This along with his work at the Mental Research Institute in Paolo Alto would form the foundations of SFBT.

Erickson posed radical ideas regarding the role of the therapist, the competency of the clients and the meaning of psychotherapy in general. His approach involved using the client’s own language and worldview as the focus of his work. Cade and O’Hanlon expand on this:

“Since we have no general or explanatory models to guide us, clients goals and visions of the future become our compass settings, and help us map our way to their hoped for destinations.”

Throughout the 70s and 80s Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg were developing what was to become known as Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). In particular in 1977 the introduction of a break within a session, the development of the Miracle question in 1983.

Interest in SFBT on a wider scale began in the late eighties and early nineties, following the publication of Steve de Shazer’s book “Keys to Solutions in Brief Therapy”.

In the late 1980’s a team of London based social workers and family therapists set up the Brief Therapy Practice, which later became known simply as BRIEF. Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer presented their ideas for the first time in Britain at their inaugural conference in 1990.

SFBT continued to spread across the world culminating in the creation of the European Brief Therapy Association (EBTA) in 1993 very shortly after Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shasser called a meeting to create the International Brief Therapy association (IBTA).

The Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AfSFH) was launched in 2010.

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