Which techniques are commonly used in solution-focused therapy

Solution-focused therapy is a type of counseling that focuses on the solutions you are already using, rather than the problems. Solution-focused therapy encourages clients to explore their own strengths and resources as they work toward achieving their goals. The goal of solution-focused therapy is to develop an optimistic outlook on life and empower clients to be self-directed in their own healing process. There are several techniques used in solution-focused therapy:

The miracle question

The miracle question is a technique used in solution-focused therapy. The therapist asks the client what their life would look like if they had already overcome their problem. For example, if you’re working with a client who is struggling with anxiety and wants to be able to go outside without feeling fearful of going out in public, this technique might look like this:

Therapist: What would your life look like if you were able to go outside without feeling afraid?

This question can help the client shift their focus away from the negative aspects of their life and towards a more positive, optimistic outlook. The therapist then helps the client identify what steps they need to take in order to make those changes happen.

Client: Well, I’ll be able to go outside without feeling afraid. I’ll be able to walk around town and shop for groceries at the market without worrying about people noticing me or judging me.

This answer can help clients begin thinking about ways they can overcome their fear of socializing and start making plans for how they’ll do it.

This technique helps clients become more aware of what’s keeping them stuck in negative patterns and motivates them toward change by helping them see what life could be like without those patterns holding them back.

Scaling questions

Scaling questions are designed to elicit the client’s perceptions about their problem, and how it affects them. As such, they are usually used at the beginning of therapy in order to get a sense of what the client believes is true about their situation. Scaling questions can be used in a number of ways:

  • To establish rapport – The therapist might scale first as a way of building rapport with the client, who may feel more comfortable sharing their perspective once they have seen that others have similar ideas or experiences.
  • To clarify meaning – Scaling is also useful when working with clients who have trouble expressing themselves clearly or giving specific examples of what they mean by certain words and phrases (e.g., “I’m struggling with my health”).
  • For assessment purposes – Scaling questions can help assess where someone falls on any given continuum, such as when determining whether they’re experiencing mild depression versus major depression; this can then inform treatment planning decisions regarding which techniques should be used at different stages throughout treatment.

Exception questions

Exception questions are a way of asking about the exception to the problem, rather than how it’s affecting you. For example, in solution-focused therapy (which is a form of talk therapy), they might ask: “When is your work life going well?” or “Tell me about the last time you felt like you were really enjoying yourself.”

Exceptions are important because they show that there are times when things are not as bad as they seem. They also help us get past any negative beliefs we may have about ourselves or our lives.

Exception questions help us to focus on what is working in our lives and build on it, rather than focusing on what is not working. It can help us avoid getting stuck in negative thinking patterns and give us a fresh perspective on things.

Draw or model the problem

In this phase, the therapist asks the client to draw or model a diagram of their problem. This is done to help the client better understand and describe their problem in a tangible way. The diagram may include aspects such as:

  • A timeline for when the client first noticed symptoms
  • Possible causes of or triggers for these symptoms
  • How they’re affecting other areas of life (work/school, family/friends)

The therapist will then ask questions about various aspects of the diagram in order to gain insight into what’s causing distress and how it can be resolved.

Externalizing problems

In solution-focused therapy, you should start to think of your problems as solutions. This way of thinking can be useful because it allows you to focus on what works in a situation and will lead you in a better direction.

An example of this is if someone were struggling with procrastination. They might think about the problem as “I am so bad at finishing things,” or “I’m just lazy.” These thoughts make the problem seem bigger than it actually is and lead people down a path where they feel like they’re never going to get what they want or reach their goals. Instead, try thinking about how this could become an opportunity for something great: maybe once you finish something that is hard for you, then other projects will seem easier! This way of looking at things makes them more manageable and gives us hope that we’ll get past our current obstacles without giving up too soon!


Presuppositions are beliefs that are held to be self-evident. They can be used as a starting point in solution-focused therapy because they help you to see possibilities rather than limitations.

For example:

  • I believe that everything happens for a reason.
  • All things change in time and space.
  • We can always find another way of doing things when we want something bad enough.


As you can see, the techniques used in solution-focused therapy are very creative and flexible. They encourage clients to take ownership of their problems and find their own solutions. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t always work for everyone, as some people may prefer to talk about their problems rather than focus on solutions. But if it does work for you and your therapist seems like someone who would be open to using these techniques, then give them a try! It’s always good to have options when trying something new—and if they don’t work out? Well, there’s always another option waiting around the corner. If you’d like professional help from Dr. Russ with Chat Helps, do not hesitate to request a free consultation by calling our phone line at 855-270-1100.