VISTAS School Counseling

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Solution-Focused Brief Counseling in Schools: Theoretical Perspectives and Case Application to an Elementary School Student

May Sobhy and Marion Cavallaro


Solution–focused brief counseling (SFBC) is a postmodern therapeutic system which focuses on helping clients create solutions in a straight-forward manner within a limited amount of time. It is based on the assumptions that clients have the necessary strengths and resources to change and that counseling is most effective when focusing on constructing solutions unique to each client (de Shazer, 1988). Solution-focused brief counseling differs from other modes of counseling in that it shifts the focus from problem solving to creating present and future solutions. Because of its positive, solution-focus, SFBC can be used in a wide range of settings (Webb, 1999). Since termination is the ultimate goal in counseling SFBC is extensively used in agency and school settings because of its “efficient, effective and positive” use of time (De Jong & Berg, 2008). Once the therapeutic techniques have been introduced in counseling, they can be utilized by the client anywhere without the counselor’s assistance. Prior to termination, counselors assist clients in identifying strategies that can be used to maintain progress towards their goals. In agency settings, solution-focused brief counseling is valued because of the demands of managed health care and their limits on the number of sessions. The use of SFBC is valuable in school settings as well since school counselors are responsible for large caseloads of students and rarely see students for long term counseling (Sklare, 2005). This article will provide an overview of the historical development of solution-focused brief counseling and discuss it main principles and techniques. A fictitious case study detailing the use of SFBC with an elementary school student will then be presented to illustrate its main tenants, use of questions, and its focus on the client’s strengths and resources.

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