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SOLUTION-ORIENTED BRIEF THERAPY
(from the book-- Divorce Busting - A Revolutionary and Rapid Program for Staying Together, by Michele Weiner-Davis)

Most problems are solvable … research shows that the primary complaints leading to divorce are not physical abuse or addiction but, rather, lack of communication, lack of affection, and nagging (Hetherington, Cox, and Cox, 1981, p. 58). I’ve grown increasingly convinced that most marriages are worth saving simply because most problems are solvable. Or to put it another way, most unhappy marriages can be changed, and therefore are worth changing.. In fact, I don’t believe in "saving marriages," I believe in divorcing the old marriage and beginning a new one—with the same partner.

…I recognized that I needed new tools to help partners… [the] assumption that understanding and expressing feelings will clear up problems simply did not work. The couples I saw in my practice expressed their feelings, even understood their feelings, and yet their problems persisted…Nor did I find useful the idea that couples can free themselves of their problems by gaining insight into their childhood traumas … insight of this sort simply takes too long for people in crisis… Another detour on the road to problem solving was my belief that couples need to understand how their upbringing influences their behavior and attitudes as marital partners … I learned that having explanations for problems doesn’t necessarily solve them! Furthermore, when I looked around I noticed that there was precious little agreement among professionals; each therapy approach had a different way of explaining how problems develop… That left me at the doorstep of Solution-Oriented Brief Therapy, an approach which emphasizes finding solutions rather than developing explanations for problems.

… Solution-Oriented Brief Therapy (SBT) is a new dynamic, results-oriented therapy approach… As its name implies, brief therapy is short-term, meaning that goals are usually accomplished in a limited number of sessions… all brief therapists have at least one thing in common—they are task-oriented. Clients are asked to set goals early on so that progress can be closely monitored at each session. How can brief therapy be so brief? …[Rather than delving into past origins of the problem] brief therapists are more interested in the present and the future. By identifying each person’s role in the way the problem is being handled today, brief therapists obtain the raw data necessary to generate prescriptions for change. By so doing, lengthy reviews of personal histories are bypassed.. More importantly though, SBT therapists focus on the future, helping couples envision what their lives will be like without the problems. Unlike psychodynamic or psychoanalytic approaches which emphasize how problems develop, SBT asks: "What do you want to become?" and "What are the necessary steps to get there?" Therapy becomes less explanation-oriented and more solution-oriented, a process which takes considerably less time.

Visit Michele's website: www.divorcebusting.com !

(Read Love is a Verb)

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Michele has a number of excellent free articles on her website! Here are a few quotes from them -- “… I’m convinced that the single biggest contributor to the breakdown in relationships today is the fact that couples aren’t spending enough time together … Time together gives people opportunities to collect new memories, do activities they enjoy, to laugh at each other’s jokes, to renew their love. Plus, more good news. You don’t have to spend enormous amounts of time together to breed closeness and connection. Regular, brief get-togethers work too… What I’m after … is teaching couples skills that combat hopelessness, which I’m convinced is the number one killer of marriages … the capacity of people to reopen their hearts to each other never fails to humble me… In the early years of marriage, women are the relationship caretakers. They carefully monitor their relationships to make sure there is enough closeness and connection. If not, women will do what they can to try to fix things. If their husbands aren’t responsive, women become extremely unhappy and start complaining about everything under the sun … If you’re a man reading this and your wife has been complaining or nagging, thank her. It means she still cares about you and your marriage… Spend time with her. Talk to her. Compliment her. Pay attention. Take her seriously. Show her that she’s the most important thing in the world to you … I’ve learned a lot about how change occurs in relationships. It’s like a chain reaction. If one person changes, the other one does too. It really doesn’t matter who starts first. It’s simply a matter of tipping over the first domino. Change is reciprocal… When one partner changes, the other partner changes too. It’s a law of relationships…”
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On one tape in a series entitled "Action Strategies for Personal Achievement", Brian Tracy mentions the efforts of his wife in becoming a marriage counselor. She was in a dilemma helping one couple she was working with, when Brian (knowing what he knew about human motivation and goal-setting) made a single comment to and then asked a single question of this couple – "You have a problem … What are you going to DO about it?" This got the couple seriously thinking about what they COULD do and eventually lead to their coming up with their own solution! (This is "reminiscent" of Dr. Robert Schuller’s Possibility Thinking whose "formula" for success appears at the front of this guide!) This is what Solution-Oriented Brief Therapy is all about … people taking RESPONSIBILITY for their own problems and realizing that they can (in all but the most extreme cases) solve them THEMSELVES … through communicating and mutual goal-setting!
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Along this same line, in the chapter “Perfect the Art of Listening,” in his book, The Nature of Success, Mac Anderson shares the following story: “A few years ago a friend called. He was distraught. He was going through some difficult times in his life, and was being forced to make some tough choices. We agreed to meet at a restaurant for lunch. We sat for over three hours, and he poured his heart out. Every 15 minutes or so I’d ask a question and he would respond. At the end of his conversation, I could see the twinkle in his eyes, and the bounce was back in his step. He thanked me over and over again for sharing my advice. But you know what … I really offered no advice. In the three hours that we met, I’d estimate that he spoke for two hours and fifty-five minutes. But my encouraging him to talk through his stressful situation, he was able to reach his own conclusions.”
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Perhaps one of the best "pieces of advice" a husband can receive comes from the movie "Camelot." King Arthur was in a quandry over his relationship with Queen Guenivere and asked Merlin his advice ("How to Handle a Woman", Lowe/Lerner). And here's that advice -- "Love her, love her ... simply love her, love her, love her!" Husbands, your wives need your attention and affection ... they need you to SHOW them that you love them. We can think of no better advice than this (realizing that communicating with each other, especially listening, is an intrinsic ingredient!).

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