People come to therapy for immediate help and even have a ‘fix-me syndrome’. However, achieving both can be difficult as treatment focuses on managing an issue rather than eliminating the ailment. In the first few sessions, as the story is told, the therapist and client try to determine what is wrong. For example, a client presenting with anxiety is usually anxious about multiple issues, and the therapist’s role is to help the client understand the cause of their anxiety and to focus on a way forward.

In psychotherapy, there are various approaches to helping clients navigate their internal landscapes and overcome challenges. One such approach is solution-focused therapy, which empowers clients to identify their strengths, envision a desired future, and take steps towards achieving their goals. This article explores the principles and techniques of solution-focused therapy within multiple modalities highlighting its potential to reshape our realities and foster positive change.

Understanding Solution-Focused Therapy

Breaking Down the Approach

Solution-focused therapy is rooted in the belief that individuals can create solutions to their problems and improve their lives. It emphasizes the present and future rather than dwelling on past difficulties. By identifying and amplifying existing strengths and resources, clients are empowered to envision a future where their problems are resolved and work towards achieving that vision.

The Importance of Identification and Environment

Central to solution-focused therapy is the process of identification. Therapists help clients identify their unique strengths, values, and skills, highlighting their potential for growth and change. By shifting the focus from problems to strengths, clients are better equipped to overcome challenges and create positive outcomes. Furthermore, the environment plays a crucial role in solution-focused therapy. Clients’ sociocultural milieu, backgrounds, and experiences deeply impact their realities. Recognizing this, therapists work collaboratively with clients to create a safe and supportive therapeutic environment where growth and change can occur.

The Role of Attention in Shaping Our Realities

The Power of Attention

Attention is a fundamental cognitive process that plays a significant role in shaping our realities. It is through attention that we selectively focus on specific aspects of our experiences while filtering out others.

The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne effect, a phenomenon observed in psychology, highlights the impact of attention on behaviour. When individuals know they are being watched, their behaviour changes. This effect demonstrates the power of attention to influence our actions and shape our realities.

The Demands of a Modern Environment

In today’s fast-paced and demanding environment, many individuals experience exhaustion and struggle with finite attention resources. The constant influx of information and the need to multitask can lead to attention overload, making it challenging to focus on what truly matters.

Solution-Focused Therapy and Attention

Harnessing Attention for Positive Change

Solution-focused therapy recognizes the importance of attention in shaping our realities and utilizes this understanding to promote positive change. By directing attention towards strengths, resources, and solutions, therapists help clients reorient their focus and overcome challenges.

ADHD and Hyperfocus

For individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention can be a double-edged sword. While they may struggle with attention regulation and exhibit symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, they also possess the ability to hyperfocus on tasks that capture their interest. Solution-focused therapy can help individuals with ADHD harness their hyperfocus and direct it towards productive and goal-oriented activities.

Overcoming Attention Overload

In a world filled with distractions, solution-focused therapy provides a framework for individuals to overcome attention overload. By breaking down complex problems into smaller, manageable steps, clients can focus on specific actions that lead to desired outcomes. This approach helps individuals navigate overwhelming situations and make progress towards their goals.

Solution-Focused Therapy and Narrative Change

The Power of Stories

Human beings are inherently storytellers, constantly shaping and reshaping the narratives that define their lives. Our stories are not fixed; they can be flexible and subject to change. Solution-focused therapy recognizes the power of stories and leverages this understanding to facilitate narrative change.

Changing Behaviours and Changing Stories

Behaviours and stories are deeply intertwined. Our behaviours shape the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we tell ourselves influence our behaviours. Solution-focused therapy seeks to break negative cycles by helping individuals change their behaviours, which, in turn, leads to changes in their stories. Clients can rewrite their narratives and reshape their realities by focusing on positive behaviours and amplifying success stories.

The Role of Therapy in Reorientation

Therapy is a safe space for individuals to explore and reconstruct their narratives. Through a collaborative and non-judgmental therapeutic relationship, clients can gain new perspectives, challenge limiting beliefs, and develop alternative narratives. Solution-focused therapy encourages clients to envision a future where their problems are resolved, allowing them to move forward with a renewed sense of hope and agency.


Solution-focused therapy offers a robust framework for reshaping our realities and fostering positive change. Individuals can overcome challenges and create a future aligned with their goals and values by directing attention to strengths, resources, and solutions. Through narrative change and reorientation, clients can rewrite their stories and embark on a journey of personal growth and transformation. Solution-focused therapy empowers individuals to become active participants in shaping their realities, unlocking their potential for a brighter future.

Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC, MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page to read more articles by Liz and the AM Team

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