In graduate school, we learn different theoretical orientations that can be utilized when we work with our clients. Before we graduate, professors stress which theoretical model we need to hone and utilize upon graduation. There are so many theoretical orientations to synthesize and explore, such as Narrative, Solution focused brief therapy, Psychoanalytic, Gestalt, and Emotion Focused Therapy. These approaches are useful as it pertains to helping the clients solve their problems. However, it is important to discuss the importance of developing meaningful goals for the clients to create and focus upon while in session; setting meaningful goals is a part of the Solution focused brief model. The Solution focused brief model hinges upon developing solutions to one’s problem by developing goals. Corey (2009) the Solution focused therapist believes people have the ability to define meaningful personal goals and that they have the resources required to solve their problems. Sometimes clients decide to attend therapy because they want to discuss the origin of their problems. Narrative, Emotion Focused Therapy, and the Psychoanalytic model allow clients to discuss their problems, but they do not focus on solution talk or goals.
For example, if a therapist is utilizing Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) during sessions the therapist will spend time exploring the client’s emotions as it pertains to their presenting problems versus developing a goal and solution. Corey (2009) EFT emphasizes the importance of awareness, acceptance, and understanding of emotion and the visceral experience of emotion. In EFT, clients are assisted to identify experience, accept, explore, transform, and manage their emotions, but, in order to assist the client in making proactive and concrete changes, some of the Solution focused brief model needs to be implemented to help the clients proactively make better changes in their life.
A married couple attends session and their main issue is financial struggles. The husband complains his wife needs to find a job to contribute to the household. The wife is constantly griping about being tired and states, “my mother never worked.” The wife feels entitled based on her parents' marital style
The therapist may be utilizing Narrative therapy during session and decide to insert a unique outcome during session. Corey (2009) unique outcome- therapist talks to the client about moments of choice or success regarding the problem. Additionally, the therapist should discuss the purpose of setting goals while in counseling sessions, setting goals is a part of the Solution focused brief therapy model. If these specific clients can set a (goal) that is meaningful, their presenting problem will dissipate or become a lot easier to handle.
For example, two goals the wife can set:
- Explore the art of budgeting
- Listen more to her husband's needs.
Next example, one goal the husband can set:
- Apply understanding to his wife perceptive as it pertains to securing employment
These goals will allow the clients to discover a solution to their overall problem or learn how to cope with their different viewpoints concerning their financial management as it pertains to maintaining their household.
Corey, G; (2009) Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. 9th Edition. Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning: Belmont CA
Heather B. Duke is a marriage and family counselor in training. She will be completing her internship this summer in Chicago, Illinois. It is her passion to work with couples that are experiencing relational issues due to marriage, divorce, and custody arrangements.