Strategic Brief Therapy is a therapy that focuses on solutions to solve a problem or achieve a challenge, in the shortest possible time.
It’s brief because it isn’t interested in why things happen, but rather, on what doesn’t work.
And, it’s strategic because it seeks the right strategies to choose the fastest path towards the solution.
My initiation into Strategic Brief Therapy
In 2011 I started a master in Communication and Problem Solving approved by the CTBE of Arezzo, where they explained the basics of Brief Therapy.
I loved the method so I decided to do another master in Strategic Coaching.
A year later, I could say that I had fallen in love with Brief Therapy and how it worked, so from 2013 to 2015 I did the Clinic Master in Strategic Brief Therapy, supervised by Giorgio Nardone
Since then, I have mainly used this method with my clients because I think it has tremendous potential.
It’s also a method that leads you straight to the point without you noticing it. And problems are solved quickly and with no complexity.
But all the training I did before allows me to adapt every therapy based on my client’s needs, so, I also use other psychology resources such as Gestalt therapy, Coaching, theatre, etc.
Origins of SBT
Strategic Brief Therapy is influenced by:
1. The Systemic Perspective
Which has two basic assumptions:
- The general systems theory, which states that all systems are connected and therefore, to achieve a change in behavior, we can either act on the individual or on all the members of the system.
Imagine that you have a problem with your partner, friend, relative, etc.
A change in you will cause a change in others.
Another example might be some parents having problems with their children. If the parents’ behavior change, it will make their relationship with their child change, and this will benefit the entire family.
Because all systems are interconnected.
- The Human Communication Theory, which states that it’s impossible not to communicate.
Through our words, our movements, gaze, gestures and so on. We are always communicating.
To give a clear message, we need to make what we say, our body language and our actions consistent. Otherwise, the other person will be confused.
Sometimes, my customers tell me “Yes” with words, and at the same time, they shake their heads. Or they say “mmmmmyeeea” which makes it unclear whether it’s a “yes” or a “no”.
So when you want to give a clear message to another person, remember that what you say, how you express yourself and what you do go in the same direction.
It’s a pedagogical current that says that we build our behavior based on our perceptions. And those are based on what we’ve previously experienced.
Let’s say that you’re used to complaining about life and have a negative and defeatist attitude. You always react the same way, even in different situations. Therefore your reality will involve bad things happening to you.
One day, you meet a person who, although he or she has lived very similar situations to yours, that person doesn’t complain and, rather, has a positive attitude towards life.
Then you realize that depending on how you perceive what happens to you, you can answer in different ways.
In fact, Paul Watzlawick said that there are as many realities as there are people because each person has a different way of perceiving reality.
In therapy, I try to change the perception to help people see their life from a different perspective so that, instead of blocking or paralyzing, you can move on.
3. Contributions by Milton Erickson
Milton Erickson used hypnotic communication but without trance. He used to explain many stories to make the person understand more easily that there was a different way to respond to situations.
He also gave more importance to the present than to the past, and greatly valued actions and experience, considering that therapeutic work had to be focused on a precise goal.
In the SBT defining the objective is essential to be able to work, because if you don’t know where to go,
How can you get there?
That’s why, sometimes, I can even dedicate two sessions to clearly define the goal my client wants to achieve, whether it regards overcome a particular problem or achieving a particular objective.
Objectives of the Strategic Brief Therapy (SBT)
Understanding HOW the problem works
You need to understand what you’re doing or not doing, thinking, that is making the problem persists.
For example, imagine a woman who is sure that others disapprove of her. Perhaps, reacting to that belief, she tries to act and “defend herself” first, so what does she do?
She looks at others with suspicion or mistrust, or perhaps she doesn’t even look at them. They react to her suspicious ways, and do the same or don’t even look at her.
But what is she doing that is causing this reaction?
If you understand that her belief leads to certain behavior and that others respond to that behavior, it’ll be easier to solve that problem.
I’m not saying that we’re 100% responsible for other people’s reactions, but it’s good to figure out what we are doing or thinking, and if that can cause, the feared reaction.
Block Attempted Solutions (AS) that sustain the problem
An Attempted Solution is something you’ve done to try to solve a problem.
Normally, if you don’t solve it, then it becomes a Failed Attempted Solution.
But human beings, don’t really understand why it doesn’t work, so instead of doing something different, you tell yourself “perhaps I haven’t tried hard enough” and you repeat the same solution, even if that doesn’t work, again and again.
That’s why from the SBT it’s important to discover your attempted solutions because there comes a time when the same solution may be the one sustaining the problem.
Imagine, for example, that as you’re not sure whether you’ve left a light on, a fire in the kitchen or the taps open, before you leave home, you check everything.
At first, this solution reassures you, so every time before you leave the house, you check everything After a while, this first initial solution becomes rigid, so, you can’t leave the house without checking all the taps, lights and fires.
And this need for control can lead you to lose control over the situation, and if one day you leave home without checking everything, you may get anxiety attacks or need to go home to check.
That first solution was fine the first day, but if you keep it up, it could become a problem by itself. Can you see?
Therefore it’s very important to block solutions that don’t work or that maintain a problem.
Changing the dysfunctional balance of the system
Imagine that one day you get stuck in an elevator for five minutes, and, from that moment on (imbalance), you start avoiding elevators, until there comes a time when you always avoid them.
Thus, you create, a “dysfunctional” balance, since you should be able to decide whether you want to take an elevator or not, but in this case, your fear decides for you.
Imagine now that we introduce a “discordant” element and, every time you have the opportunity to take an elevator, you do three rounds around yourself.
This leads to a change in your balance and therefore to new sensations and experiences. Perhaps when you do three rounds over yourself you get a bit dizzy or even think about taking the elevator because the tree turns over yourself diverted your attention from fear or anxiety.
The important thing is that you’ve created a new experience with elevators.
And from this new experience, you’ve created a “corrective emotional experience.”, (a different experience as a response to a fear situation) which opens up the possibility of changing your reaction towards elevators.
Eventually, breaking your dysfunctional balance will make you able to decide whether to take the elevator or not, or if you’d rather exercise and take the stairs, but, it will be your own decision.
In a Strategic Brief Therapy session we’ll:
- Clearly define your goal
- Block failed attempted solutions
- Give you different strategies to break your dysfunctional balance
Of course, the examples given are a tiny version of what Brief Strategic Therapy can do for you, but at least, I hope I’ve been able to give you a little view on my way of working.
If you want to undergo this experience, you know where to find me, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org