Why Choose Solution-Focused Brief Therapy for Your Child with Anxiety?
When choosing among therapies for your child with anxiety, how do you know which one is best?
After all, there are so many counseling approaches to choose from. What criteria should you even be looking for?
Before you start an exhaustive search for the answer, let me save you some time.
Research studies all point to pretty much the same conclusion – no one counseling approach is superior to another. In fact, just the therapy process itself helps people become aware of their capacity to change and grow.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t favor one therapy approach over another and as an online therapist, I certainly do!
Curious about the benefits of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) and why it might be a great fit for your child over other counseling approaches? Read on…
What is Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT)?
In a nutshell, SFBT is a question-based process that enables your child to build change into their lives in the shortest possible time.
This change results from encouraging your child to describe what their lives will be like should the therapy be successful; and by describing instances of success.
SFBT also highlights your child’s strengths, resources, and resilience to bring about the change. By having this hopeful conversation, your child expands their vision of what’s possible in life.
How Does SFBT in Illinois Work?
We don’t know exactly how SFBT works – only that it does.
Your child answers questions in ways they’ve never heard themselves talk before. And in doing so, new pathways are created that lead them to noticing differences and making changes in their lives.
SFBT also challenges your child to think and shift their pattern of attention. And it challenges thought patterns that keep problems alive.
Numerous evidence-based studies have shown SFBT’s effectiveness in working with all types of clients.
How I See Your Child in Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT)
In therapy, how I see my clients (e.g. your child) is really the foundational piece to the entire SFBT approach. It’s also in sharp contrast to how other counseling approaches view the client.
Your child is capable and competent.
From the get-go, I see your child as someone who is able to answer any question I ask and to know exactly where it is they want to go. I believe in their ability, competence, and capability to change.
In fact, I also view your child as if they’re the holder of the resource that’s ultimately going to free their life of the problem. They have what it takes to successfully implement change.
Your child is hopeful.
Typically, there are at least two versions of every client I see – the version that is hopeful about being able to move toward less anxiety, and the version that has a really hard time believing they can get there.
My job is to ask questions that ONLY the hopeful client can answer because when they do move forward, it will be that version of your child who accomplishes it.
Your child deserves my expectancy and I never entertain the idea/concept of “can’t”.
Your child is a superhero.
I view your child as a superhero because every person has skills, traits, powers, and abilities.
Every person has moments where they forget how amazing, powerful and strong they are. Maybe they just need to spend time around others who remind them of how amazing and important they really are.
Once children realize this, they can take action to overcome almost any problem they encounter in life. When you view people as superheroes, that’s who they become.
Your child is motivated.
Children do NOT lack motivation and it’s my job to uncover what they are motivated towards. Your child already brings to the work of therapy the resources, skills, and strengths they need to resolve the problem. Sometimes only the smallest of changes is necessary to set in motion a solution to the problem.
Your child is an achiever.
In SFBT, I talk to the version of your child who is capable of achieving what they want. People always have parallel stories – problem stories and resource stories. No one is all strength, and no one is a problem.
“When were you at your best?” questions build up your child’s resources so that the problem shrinks. “At your best” feelings are evoked within your child so that they become more capable of overcoming their challenges.
How Does Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT) Differ from Other Anxiety Therapy Approaches?
From the very first session, Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT) sets itself apart from other counseling approaches around the assumption of why your child comes for therapy.
Even though anxiety may have triggered your child needing online therapy, my assumption in SFBT is that your child has come because they want something.
And as a result of having that different assumption, it sends the conversation in a different direction. The resulting conversation opens up more possibilities and avenues for change.
Using SFBT, I tap into the motivation of each child I work with because I know that the pull of what your child wants (e.g. happiness, confidence, fun) is often a lot stronger than the push away from what they don’t want (e.g. anxiety).
Here are some additional noteworthy differences between Solution-Focused Therapy and other counseling approaches:
Your child holds the solutions to their problems.
This belief is almost counter-cultural to how other therapy approaches operate whereby the therapist is the Expert. Solution-Focused Therapy, on the other hand, believes that your child has a way of doing things that work for them and will eventually lead them to their own solutions.
A successful outcome depends on getting clear on what your child wants from therapy. Once this is established, the task of therapy is to find the quickest way there. I follow the motto – “Every client carries the key to the solution. Every solution-focused therapist needs to know where to look.”
I don’t try to “get” your child to do anything.
“Get” is a forced word. When I apply force, your child may respond with resistance. Instead, I invite clients into a very particular way of describing their lives. And if your child doesn’t accept my invitation, I don’t assume something is wrong with your child, I ask myself what is wrong with my invitation.
Your child gets all the credit for the change.
I believe that it’s your child who puts their gifts, talents, skills, and resources to use to create change. They always get it right. If they don’t change – I have to ask myself, “What did I get wrong?” This approach requires humility on my part as the therapist.
Less is more.
I believe that life is for living rather than for talking about it and so the less time your child spends with me and the more time they spend living their lives, the better.
Many therapists who use other counseling approaches take the opposite position, choosing to believe that therapy is good in and of itself and that more is better than less. But this view is almost always associated with your child remaining in therapy longer and is NOT supported by research.
The goal is to help your child “become unstuck”.
My task is to work with your child in such a way that they get themselves “unstuck” and begin moving forward again.
I do not take the view that it’s my job to “cure” or to “treat” or to “resolve your child’s issues”. Rather, I facilitate a conversation that enables your child to experience moving forward with the hope and expectation that they can be successful.
SFBT works more quickly than other approaches.
Many traditional therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) believe that it takes 3 sessions before trust is developed between the therapist and your child. This is simply not true. In SFBT, I assume it’s already there and get right to work.
We start with the assumption that one session can make a difference, and very often it does. I help your child zero in on their desired outcome without getting lost in detail, old history, and diagnoses.
Change can happen quickly; and because your child’s strengths already exist, it often takes less time to put them to use in addressing the problem.
What Your Child Can Expect in Our First Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT) Session.
Kids and teens are often apprehensive about counseling because they’re not sure what to expect. Sometimes just explaining the flow of a typical online therapy session can be helpful in alleviating fears or apprehension.
Although every SFBT conversation is different because each child is unique, I do tend to follow a similar structure:
“Get to know you” questions.
When working with your child, I always like to take a few minutes, in the beginning, to get to know them a bit. I may ask about their favorite toys, activities, friends, sports, and hobbies as well as pets, school, and fun family-related facts. Kids almost always enjoy sharing especially in the beginning of our sessions.
I then ask the big question from which every other question in our session hinges upon – what your child wants to achieve from talking with me. These questions usually take the form of “What have you been hoping for as a result of talking to me?”
For many children with anxiety, the answer is some variant of wanting to feel happy, confident, brave, or excited about life again.
In this next stage of our conversation, I invite your child to describe how they would know, in everyday terms, that they were feeling happy and confident again. I ask a lot of “noticing” questions.
E.g. “Suppose you wake up tomorrow morning and you just know your happiness and confidence are back, what’s the first thing you’ll notice?” “And what difference will that make in your life?” “What else would you notice?” “Who will be the first person to notice this change?” In all these questions, I’m inferring that their preferred future is possible.
Resources and instances of success.
Once your child’s preferred future has been described in detail, we will together search for signs of the future already happening in your child’s life, whether currently or in the recent past; anything they are doing or have done that fits with the achievement of their preferred future.
What I’m really looking to glean from your child is this – What resources do you have in your life that make that desired outcome possible?
Closing an SFBT Session
When finishing a session, I simply thank your child for their work and highlight whatever your child has said that could be associated with them making further progress.
Furthermore, I don’t give homework or suddenly become the Expert. I honor the process and our work together and simply trust that our talk is leading your child to the destination.
What Your Child Can Expect in Follow-Up Sessions For SFBT?
SFBT follow-up sessions are characterized by the assumption that at least some things have gotten better for your child. And so, the first question your child is asked is: “What’s been better since the last time we met?”
Further follow-up questions (like the ones listed below) help your child own that they did in fact do something; that these changes didn’t just happen by themselves.
- “How did these changes happen?”
- “What did you do to have life be different for you?”
- “And if these changes were to continue moving forward, what would continue to be different?”
- “So what have you drawn on to make these changes?”
- “What have you learned about yourself in making these changes that weren’t so clear to you in the past?”
- “What does this say about you?”
And even if things actually got worse from one week to the next, your child likely did something that prevented the situation from spiraling down even deeper. We then have a conversation about the actions your child did take.
Why the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Approach is a Great Fit for Kids and Teens with Anxiety
Most kids and teens are not excited about going to months and months of online therapy even if it’s helpful. They may resent all the time it takes up or fear being forced to talk about their feelings or other issues they’d rather keep private. I don’t blame them.
Kids with anxiety feel enough stress and worry as it is. They need a quicker approach to therapy that’s going to be highly effective, keep them engaged and respect their autonomy. Thankfully, SFBT fits the bill.
Here are 5 additional reasons SFBT is a great fit for your anxious child:
The average number of SFBT sessions is 5.
In the SFBT approach, we work quickly. From the very first session, I’m already working with the end in mind. My motto is “not one additional session beyond what is needed or useful to your child”.
Creativity is used to build change.
I don’t dictate to your child what change needs to happen – either in their thinking or behavior. Rather, they’re invited into a world where things could be different. What might your child be like if they found themselves in that world?
Your child’s skills and resources are highlighted.
All change occurs because of your child’s contribution to it. What did they do to bring that change about? If they did it once, they can do it again. They begin to realize that it’s not some external factor over which they have no control. Your child becomes the agent of change.
Your child knows best.
I trust your child and believe that whatever your child decides to do between sessions will be right for them. My guiding principle is always that the client knows best. I also end therapy when you and your child decide it’s time to end.
There is a natural end to online therapy.
As things progress in our counseling work together, we stretch out the time between sessions. Kids always seem to like that, and irregular scheduling helps us move toward termination. Termination then is not a dramatic point in the process but rather a natural ending.
Try Solution-Focused Anxiety Therapy in Illinois with Briefly Counseling Today!
Don’t allow your child to feel overwhelmed by anxiety one more day. Online therapy in Illinois at Briefly Counseling can help. Anxiety may feel overwhelming to your child, but it is highly treatable. In just a handful of sessions using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), I help kids and teens reduce their anxiety and build resilience so they can become a happier, more confident version of themselves.
Kids and teens alike love being able to receive counseling from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. And studies have consistently proven that online therapy delivers equal results to in-office counseling. Moreover, researchers have studied how kids respond to computer-based therapy and found that it can be helpful for both depression and anxiety. According to the study, kids spend so much time on their phones and other devices that this form of therapy may come more naturally to them.
As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing online anxiety treatment. To start your child’s counseling journey, follow these simple steps:
- Click on the Schedule an Appointment button.
- Select a day and time in my online calendar
- Or learn about me, your caring online solution-focused therapist
- Watch your child gain confidence and feel better
Other Counseling Services at Briefly Counseling
Anxiety counseling for kids and teens isn’t the only service I offer in my Chicago and Illinois online counseling practice. Other mental health services provided by Briefly Counseling include Christian counseling, anxiety counseling for teens, and anxiety counseling for children.