New Age Treatment for Age Old Conditions

by Joe Sinclair  

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Brief Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that utilises the clientís own strengths and resources to resolve problems.  Brief therapists help clients to set and work on measurable goals.  Brief therapists are task oriented.  They are more interested in the present and the future than in the past origins of a condition.  Hence its full name of solution-oriented (or solution-focused) brief therapy.


Clients are first encouraged to set goals and are then monitored as to progress.  Unlike earlier psychoanalytical approaches, which were concerned with how problems originated and developed, solution-oriented brief therapy concentrates on where the client wishes to go and what steps are required to get there.


It dates from the sixties when therapists started questioning the conventional wisdom that required years on an analystís couch seeking historical reasons for current conditions, and suggested that cure was more desirable than explanation.  It defined New Age pragmatism: if it works, donít waste time worrying about why it works. Construct solutions rather than dwell on problems.  Move on and enjoy life rather than stay locked into a destructive pattern.


The client defines the goal; the therapist suggests behavioural changes that will break ingrained patterns, such as helping the client to reframe the problem, to explore alternative solutions, and to set the new goals needed to resolve them.  Changing a pattern of behaviour even when (perhaps, particularly when) there is a psychological resistance to that change is the path towards a practical solution.  So long as clients cling to old pains, they will continue to be resistant to change.  Changing a pattern of behaviour is the most effective and immediate way to changing oneís perception of a problem.  Understanding the cause is not necessarily a route to finding a solution.


Therapy is goal-directed.  The therapist will get clients to focus on their strengths and resources, and utilise their own resources to effect changes. Brief therapy has been effective in treating a wide variety of problems, including depression, eating disorders. drug and alcohol addictions, relationships, anxiety disorders and sexual dysfunction.


One of the arguments against brief therapy is that ignoring a root cause does not provide a long-term solution, and that this might re-emerge at some future date, perhaps in another form.  But brief therapists believe that their clients will be able to solve future problems in the same way that they have solved an existing one; and present happiness and well-being is preferable to years of therapy.