Solution-focused (also sometimes referred to as solution oriented) therapy is a kind of brief therapy that is goal directed in its approach.

Solution-focused vs. problem-focused therapy

Solution-focused therapy and coaching

  • focuses on solutions and a positive future
  • based on the assumption that if the patient has the resources to create the problem, he or she also has the resources to solve it (the patient is the expert)
  • small changes lead to larger ones
  • not necessary to have an understanding of the history of the presenting problem to make positive change
  • also focusing on those instances where the patient’s problem is absent or minimal (exceptions suggest solutions)

Problem-focused therapy and coaching

  • centers on reducing the problem
  • focuses on what patients don’t want
  • interested in why the problem happens
  • looks at what clients are doing wrong
  • seeks to eliminate clients’ weaknesses

Scientific evidence for a solution-focused approach

Scientific research revealed that solution-focused questioning in therapy and coaching produced a significantly greater increase in

  • self-efficacy
  • goal approach
  • action steps
  • positive emotions

and a significantly greater decrease in

  • negative emotions

than problem-focused questions.


MacDonald A. J. (2011) Solution-focused Therapy. Theory, Research & Practice 2nd ed. Sage

Neipp, M. C., Beyebach, M., Nuñez, R. M., & Martínez‐González, M. C. (2016). The Effect of Solution‐Focused Versus Problem‐Focused Questions: A Replication. Journal of marital and family therapy, 42(3), 525-535