How clients and solution focused therapists co-construct new meanings when having conversations about 'What's better?'
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Counselling
Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a goal oriented therapeutic approach that assists clients to build solutions rather than analyse problems. Solution focused (SF) therapists often open sessions, subsequent to the first, with the question ‘What is better since we last met?’ with the purpose of enabling clients to gain a heightened sense of their own self efficacy. This research explores how clients and a solution focused therapist co-construct new meanings when having conversations about ‘What’s better?’ The study approaches this question from an interpretative perspective. Five clients agreed to be part of the research while engaging in solution-focused counselling. Each client met with the counsellor on up to five occasions during which time the ‘What’s better?’ question was asked. Following each session clients were asked to provide their perceptions on the session on client feedback forms. Excerpts transcribed from single sessions with different clients were microanalysed to determine how the co-construction process occurs. The analysis revealed the collaborative and co-constructive character of Solution Focused Therapy conversations. The ‘What’s better?’ prompt led to a shift in meaning for clients. Comments made on the client feedback forms showed that the conversations raised greater awareness of their own achievements, competencies and positive aspects in their lives. Clients also expressed an increase in hope through conversations about ‘What’s better?’ The findings of this study build on research that suggests therapists’ discursive tools such as ‘questions’, ‘formulations’, ‘lexical choice’, and ‘grounding’ provide the means to influence therapeutic conversations. Analysis of dialogues in this study show that purposefully applied ‘compliments’, which do not fit into any previously identified discursive tools, can be useful for co-constructing new meanings. This study also extends previous research by demonstrating that both the choice of discursive tool and the purpose of its application are influential in therapeutic conversations.