Solution Focused Brief Therapy

Ahmad’s case story presents interesting facts about how he thinks and feels about his situation. He seems to think about his life as something destined to be what it is. Ahmad said that his friends did not make him bad; he was already bad to begin with. This demonstrates a way of thinking with a strong locus of control. He knew why he turned out to be a problem child and he did not blame his friends for his mistakes, crimes and decisions. But he did emphasize that his mother had told him what he was going to be in the future.

As a child, Ahmad may have come to believe in this prophecy which is why he thinks like that. This tells us that Ahmad is capable of thinking logically; he actually did not blame his mother for turning out to be the person he is, but to him his mother was right in saying he was going to be a bad person in the future. Ahmad seems to have the ability to take responsibility for his actions and maybe in this case he can also plan for his future. These are the reasons why Ahmad can benefit with solution focused brief therapy.

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Solution focused brief therapy would help Ahmad think about his present situation which he already have done in his case interview. The focus of the therapy is on helping the client recognize his ability to negotiate, plan and act on his desired outcomes of the therapy even in one session. It is important to note that solution focused brief therapy believes that the client is motivated to achieve his goals in therapy, and Ahmad has all the indications that he is motivated.
Moreover, solution focused brief therapy is suitable in cases where the client firmly believes that what he/she is cannot be changed but rather to be able to find the means to move on with their life. For Ahmad, the focus is not on knowing why he became like this but rather to plan for his goals after this therapy. Solution focused brief therapy had been found to work well with all kinds of clients even with children, thus increasing the suitability of the approach to this case. 2. Discuss some of key counseling issues that Ahmad is facing
The key counseling issues that Ahmad is presenting include a poor self-concept, a deterministic sense of where his life is heading and an inadequate relationship with significant others. Ahmad says that he is destined to be a thief just as his father was destined to be a drug addict. This tells us that Ahmad had begun on the path of self-fulfilling prophecy because it was what he always heard from his mother. Moreover, he did not resist this prophecy because it validated his relationship as his father’s son which he might have not known while he was a child.
At the same time, Ahmad seemed to be mostly affected by his mother’s behavior towards him. He even blamed his mother for starting him on smoking when he was in kindergarten. From this statement, it could be surmised that Ahmad’s mother was not very present in his early life, the mother was permissive, did not show any affection or care even when he did not go home for days and beat him when she knew he did something wrong. The attempts of the mother to discipline Ahmad only contributed to the child’s belief that he was not wanted or that he was a bad person.
His poor self-concept was probably developed from what he heard from his mother who to him is the most significant person. These key cousnelling issues are important because it would hinder Ahmad’s chances of realizing his goals in therapy. His self-determinism and poor self-concept may stop him from thinking about his future since he is already a bad person there is nothing that could be done about it. His inadequate relationship with his mother has actually caused his poor self-concept which can be worked on during therapy.
3. Discuss the therapeutic goals and how you would manage the case of Ahmad using your chosen therapeutic approach Solution focused brief therapy relies on three fundamental questions that needs to be asked by the therapist to the client which if done properly can lead to realizations that would help the client reach his goals. The therapist has to trust the client that he would answer the questions and the therapist has to ask the questions in such a way that the client would be able to adequately answer it.
The basic questions include what are client’s hopes for the outcome of the therapy, what would be the client’s life be if these hopes are realized and what have the client been doing now and in the past that would help the client realize his goals. In Ahmad’s case the therapist first asks the question what are his goals in this therapy. Whatever Ahmad’s response be, it would be accepted as valid and real to him and can be established as the desired goals of the therapy. Ahmad’s goals should be placed foremost in the therapeutic relationship.
The therapist can further ask Ahmad what he would feel if he realized this goal, would it make him feel better or not. In this way the client could further examine his goals if it is really what he wanted. The therapist also does not impose his/her own values or beliefs into the client’s goals. After establishing the desired goals of the client, the therapist then can begin asking the second question centering on the preferred situation or kind of life that Ahmad wants to have when his goals are realized.
In this stage of the therapy, the client is asked to elaborate on what his goals would bring him in the future. If his goal is to stop being apprehended then a likely approach would be to ask Ahmad what would his lie become if he does not have to face the police and the court as much, in this way Ahmad would realize a future without the threat of being caught by the police a likely possibility and which he can attain. By discussing the client’s feelings, thoughts and reactions to the desired goal for the future, it becomes more present to Ahmad and become more attainable.
In this part of the therapy, the therapist can ask Ahmad the “magic question”. The magic question had been developed to help the client think more about his/her desired goals. The magic question is phrased as “if you wake up in the morning and all of the things you would want to happen have happened already how you would feel? ” The goal is to be able to help the client realize that there is something after the problem, that there is no need to figure out the solution because occasionally the solution will present itself and the client just have to recognize it.
In Ahmad’s case, the magic question would be “if you wake up in the morning and a miracle had occurred to wipe all your problems, what would be the things you would notice that tells you that a miracle did occur? ” After this elaboration, the therapist then asks Ahmad to describe what he had been doing now or in past that he thinks would likely lead him to his goals. The idea here is to draw out the skills and resources that the client already has in attaining his goals, it focuses more on the strengths of the client rather than his past or his problem behaviors.
The client must be able to make the connection between what he already has done that have worked to help him reach his goal and the therapist can do this by asking the right questions and leading the client to discover for himself what those resources are. Solution focused brief therapy is called brief because sessions would only range from one to six times where significant realization and improvement can already occur. Ahmad is an intelligent person and he may be able to benefit from 2 or 3 sessions just to get his work through his issues with his relationship with his mother.
4. Discuss the limitation challenges and ethical issues you might face in managing this case The limitations of solution focused brief therapy are dependent on the kind of problems and clients that come to the therapy. For example, if the client has substance abuse problems and would actually want to stop being caught by the police as her likely goal, this becomes an ethical dilemma for the counselor since solution focused brief therapy would accept all the goals of the client be it bad or good.
However, a skilled therapist can always lead the client to positive future behaviors rather than dwell on the negative goals of the client. If the goal is to learn how to get away from the authorities, then the therapist has to ask the client what she thinks would lead her to this goal, and naturally the client would say to stop doing bad things. On the other hand, solution focused brief therapy generally work well with logical clients, if the client had a mental illness or a disability and is not capable of making decisions by themselves, then the approach would not work.
Ahmad is clearly logical but a limitation would be that he is already convinced that he is bad and he does not see any problem with it. Solution focused brief therapy is only possible when the client has a clear idea of his problems, and Ahmad clearly does not think that being bad is an issue, he was maybe born to be bad. Solution focused brief therapy also does not allow therapists to change the values, ideas and emotions of the client and working with Ahmad’s concept of his being bad would definitely be a challenge. 5. Discuss the therapeutic technique that you would use this case and discuss the limitation of the technique
Solution focused brief therapy had been borne out of the belief that instead of trying to understand the problem and finding solutions to it, it is more beneficial to focus on the future and the solution to the problem. More importantly, the client often has the resources to solve the problem which can be drawn out by the therapist using magic questions. This approach also says that the past is done with and the client or the therapist cannot do anything to undo it, so it is more worthwhile to focus on the future and the solution to the problem.
The approach is called brief since therapy is initiated only when the client needs to work on a problem and when the client already knows what to do with the problem, then the therapy is terminated, in this case one or two sessions would be sufficient. The limitations of the technique heavily depend on the inability of the client to work past the problem identification stage to the goal identification stage. If the client has difficulty in this area, the therapist can throw questions that lead the client to coping behaviors which also facilitate a clear identification of goals.
Although solution focused brief therapy is simple in theory, it is actually very difficult to apply in real cases since it lacks structure and the therapist must have the presence of mind to stop from delving into the past since it is not relevant to the approach. Person Centered Therapy 1. After reading the story of Ahmad use one approach in counseling that you think might be helpful in managing this case. Explain briefly why you have chosen this approach. Ahmad’s case story is the best candidate for the application of the person centered therapy since Ahmad had issues with his self-concept and this is the forte of person centered therapy.
Ahmad’s poor self-concept that is being a bad person because he was born that way was an acceptance of his mother’s conditional regard for him. He would rather be a bad person because his mother says so and which tells him he is like his father and therefore gain acceptance than to resist the idea of being a bad person and be ignored by his mother. From Ahmad’s narrative, it was obvious that his mother only paid attention to him when he was found to misbehave or when he did something really bad.
Not going home for several days was not bad since his mother according to him trusted him; it was only when his mother knew of his stealing and vandalism that he was punished. To Ahmad, even a negative attention is more important than no attention at all from his mother. The person centered therapy specifically believes that psychological problems or disturbances stem from the inadequacy of unconditional positive regard that the client experiences in his childhood thereby stifling his growth and personal development.
The person centered approach also believes that each one of us has the ability to grow and to achieve our potentials given the right amount and quality of positive regard. 2. Discuss some of key counseling issues that Ahmad is facing Ahmad has already formed his identity and self concept based on other people’s opinion of him, and that is a bad person. He even goes as far as saying that some people are borne to be good or bad and he is one of those who were already bad when they first came to the world. All the experiences he had in his life seemed to affirm this idea which has led to his own acceptance of that self-concept.
Ahmad’s life had probably turned from bad to worse as he got older because he lacked the caring and nurturing relationships that would initiate change in his life. All his life, he had been doing bad things such as smoking in kindergarten, dropping out of school, stealing, leading a pack of boys to commit stress crimes, and yet he does not seem to be bitter about it. Ahmad had come to believe that it is his birthright to be bad, which to the person centered therapist, is a very alarming and poor self-concept.
Another counseling issue that Ahmad needs to work with the therapist is how his relationship with his mother had contributed to his self-concept and that not because his mother sees him as a bad person does not mean that all the people in the world see him as such. 3. Discuss the therapeutic goals and how you would manage the case of Ahmad using your chosen therapeutic approach The person centered approach rests on the principle that when the client experiences the core conditions that are necessary for the therapeutic relationship, he/she will begin to experience change.
The therapy first begins with the therapist establishing a relationship with Ahmad wherein the therapist must let Ahmad feel that he is accepted for who is and what he has done in the past, that Ahmad is a person of worth and that the therapist is there to listen and to understand his experiences. The person centered approach also believes that the client knows his/her problems better than any other person and the focus is not to find solutions or to explore the client’s problems but to provide the necessary core conditions to inspire change in the client.
Thus Ahmad would be asked to return for a regular session, wherein the therapist would make the client feel that he is happy to be with Ahmad, that he listens and empathize with Ahmad, when Ahmad says he does not like being in therapy, the therapist would not be quick to refute any of it but rather accepts that feeling as valid and help Ahmad explore more that feeling without the need for meeting any desired behavior or rules of the therapist.
If Ahmad refuses to talk during therapy, then the therapist must not force him to talk but rather make him feel that even if he does not talk, the therapist still values his effort in coming to the session. The third core condition is congruence which means that the therapist is genuine and honest about his feelings and ideas, this demonstrates to Ahmad that the therapist is transparent and that he does not have to be someone else than himself during their counseling sessions. During each session, the therapist must strive to make Ahmad feel that he is accepted, loved, listened to and welcomed.
In this way, Ahmad would soon trust and realize that the therapist is a real person who is willing to give him attention and care without being anything else other than himself, during sessions the therapist can ask Ahmad questions about his life, his experiences, his goals for the future and his feelings and thoughts which would later on make Ahmad share his dreams and aspirations and maybe on his own begin to act on his plans or change his behaviors because each person is capable of change, of doing good and of becoming better persons.
Hopefully, the quality of the therapist’s relationship with Ahmad makes him realize that he is not a bad person, that he just believed he was because it was what he always heard. 4. Discuss the limitation challenges and ethical issues you might face in managing this case The limitations in using the person centered approach in Ahmad’s case is that he may not have the luxury of time to always come for sessions, he may be in a facility for youth offenders or he may even be imprisoned due to his crimes which would make it impossible for him to work with a therapist.
Although group homes have in-house counselors and Ahmad might be able to work with them. Another challenge is the fact that an accepting and emphatic counselor might instead validate or reinforce Ahmad’s belief that there is nothing wrong with his behavior because he is destined to be bad. In fact, Ahmad may seem to have rationalized his self-concept into saying that bad people naturally do bad things, so if he is a bad person, then it is natural for him to do bad things.
Moreover, there is no way to verify Ahmad’s stories because in this approach the therapist believes and relies on the client’s accounts as being true. 5. Discuss the therapeutic technique that you would use this case and discuss the limitation of the technique The person centered approach believes in the fundamental goodness of all human being, thus no matter how bad a person is, there will always be room for goodness to grow in his person. As such, the therapeutic relationship is established to provide the client with the core conditions necessary fro growth.
Psychological disturbances occur because people do not always receive unconditional positive regard, empathy and genuineness; moreover, the individual comes to accept the positive regard of other people despite its being conditional because it is better to have any kind of attention than no attention at all. This approach also believes that by providing the right nurturing environment the client would become more aware of his thoughts and feelings would be able to understand more of himself and his behaviors.
This approach however is not for everyone, very young children who lack self-awareness, and those who do not want to explore their thoughts and feelings or expose their inner self to other people would not find this approach very useful. The goal of person centered therapy is found its fundamental belief and faith in the person, thus the therapy is also focused on the person’s experiences, beliefs, wishes, feelings and issues which have either prevented him/her from growing into the person that he/she should be.
There are a number of criticisms leveled against person centered approach because it lacks direction and it structure. It depends heavily on the problems that the client brings to the therapy. Another criticism is that if person centered therapy claims that a healthy relationship is more important than the expertise of the therapist then what then the difference of this approach from other approaches is.
However, research although controversial at this point had found that the effectiveness of the therapeutic relationship is strongly associated with the quality of the relationship of the client and the therapist. References de Shazer, S. , Berg, I. , Lipchik, et al. (1986). Brief therapy: Focused solution development. Family Process, 25, 207-221. Mearns, D. & Thorne, B. (1999). Person-Centered Counseling in Action, 2nd ed.. London: Sage.

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