Solution Focused Brief Practice

Physiotherapy Services and Treatments

York rehab is excited to announce the addition of a new member to the York Rehab team. Her name is Janice Senger and she is a Solution Focused Brief Practitioner. Her expertise compliments any regular physiotherapy program where the recovery process may be hindered by roadblocks the patient may come up against. Janice’s expertise can help a patient redefine perceived challenges to help them overcome a plateau in their recovery journey. Below is some more information on a solution-focused approach.

An Overview of Solution Focused Practice:
Solution Focused practice evolved out of the work of Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg and others from the Brief Family Therapy Centre in Milwaukee, WI. These individuals believed that when clients presented with a ‘problem’ there must be a hypothetical ‘solution’. Rather than focusing on what is wrong (the problem) it is more effective to talk about what is positive (things that are currently going well) that will ultimately steer the patient to potential solutions:

Solution Focused practice is powerful, empowering and positive. Practitioners are curious about the strengths, attributes, and values of our clients. The use of a different (positive) language helps clients discover alternate viewpoints towards a challenging situation. In addition, the approach informs clients of their own abilities and current successes, thereby assisting them to find a new path and way forward. Solution Focused Brief Practice does not replace physiotherapy but is done in conjunction with a physiotherapy treatment plan because it usually assists in speeding up the recovery process. A solution-focused approach is also extremely useful in situations where a patient is stuck at a particular stage in their recovery. Usually a result of some type of barrier. A solution-focused practitioner has the ability to reframe a patient’s perspective on their recovery to help them overcome the barrier that’s preventing them from moving forward. By removing the barrier(s), it helps the patient get back on their path to recovery.

“This approach has been so successful that it is now widely used outside the therapy room in teaching, management, healthcare, social work, government, and many other spheres of activity.”(Barry Winbolt 2017).

Solution Focused practice at York Rehab:
Physiotherapy patients can become ‘stuck’ or ‘plateaued’ in their recovery. This can occur for a variety of reasons, but frequently patients become discouraged as the process of rehabilitation can sometimes be challenging. Patients can become focused primarily on pain and what they have lost.

The Solution Focused approach focuses on:
i.) what a patient ‘can’ do,
ii.) what is already working well and
iii.) what the patient wants in the future.

The approach assists patients to continue forward as they regain some of the hope and perspective they may have initially lost during their difficult rehabilitation process.

Case Example: A physiotherapist referred a female in her late 30s with a host of medical issues. She needed to increase her general mobility to progress her recovery but was making very small gains. She was feeling defeated and unmotivated. She was experiencing chronic pain symptoms from a rare form of diabetes and emphysema.

Initially, we focused on what strengths, resources and the coping skills she had already used both in her present situation and in difficult experiences she’s had in the past. In addition, we focused on what was working well with her recovery so far and what small changes could be made to help improve her overall recovery process.

As our sessions progressed, she used those strengths and abilities to resume some of her hobbies. She learned to modify her activities of daily living to make that possible. Although her life was different than it had been prior, she realized she could still accomplish many of her goals differently. She rediscovered her purpose in life and how she continued to positively impact others.

As a result of treatment, her overall disposition improved, as did her desire to increase her mobility. She participated fully in the rehabilitation program provided by her physiotherapist and attended aquatic therapy on a regular basis. When things were difficult she was able to positively reframe the setback as merely an interruption in the progress instead of an end to her recovery. Because a solution-focused practitioner ushered her to solutions, she was able to form the mental stamina to achieve her physical goal.

Barry Winbolt, 2017. Personal and professional development. Barry Winbolt. (Accessed on 24.03.17).
Harry Korman 2004. SIKT, The Common project, June 2004