Clients' perspectives of the summation message in solution-focused brief counselling.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Counselling
Solution-focused brief therapy is a client-focused and strengths based counselling approach aimed at helping clients identify and build on their own resources to achieve change and live the life they want. Part of this approach includes using feedback as an intervention. This feedback, discussed by the counsellor and client at the end of a counselling session, aims to highlight and validate clients’ strengths and resources and encourages the client to use these (to construct a task) and help achieve the change s/he wants. The semi-formal structure of the feedback is termed the summation message. While it is considered an essential part of solution-focused brief therapy, little research on its use is available, particularly from the client’s perspective. This thesis addresses this gap in the research. I conducted solution-focused counselling with three clients and, using qualitative research methods, gathered their perspectives on what they experienced as helpful from the summation messages. I also explored how engaging in the research informed my own solution-focused practice. Research data consisted of transcribed counselling interviews, observation notes, counselling notes, analytic and reflexive memos. I used a thematic analysis approach, informed by the interpretive paradigm, to analyse the data and generate four major themes on clients’ perspectives of the feedback technique. Excerpts of client responses highlight the following themes: the break time helped clients to recognise their own resources and enabled the development of client-chosen tasks; feedback encouraged clients to describe their own tasks; feedback encouraged a deeper awareness about resources identified in the counselling session and reflecting on the co-construction of their own solutions enabled clients to feel empowered by their summation messages. These findings are a valuable addition to practice-based research on solution-focused counselling and, particularly on the importance of using the summation message to encourage client agency.