Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

Solution-Focused Therapy and Subject- Scientific Research into the Personal Conduct of Everyday Living

Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

Solution-Focused Therapy and Subject- Scientific Research into the Personal Conduct of Everyday Living

Article excerpt

Introduction

The connection between subject-scientific research and therapeutic practice has been a central theme in German-Scandinavian critical psychology from early on. Psychoanalysis as the first subject science has been the main partner in critical-psychological projects of critique and development (see e.g., Holzkamp, 1984; Niemeyer, 1981). There have, however, also been treatises that discuss family and systemic therapies with relation to subject-scientific concepts (e.g., Dreier, 1980; Friele, 2008). In this article I describe from a subject-scientific point of view the practice of solution-focused therapy, which is seen as a further development of systemic family therapy (e.g., Furman & Ahola, 2014; Macdonald, 2011; de Shazer, 1991; Slutzki, 1992). My main focus is on articulating typical solution-focused practices as part of subject-scientific research into the personal conduct of everyday living.

Solution-focused therapy is a new approach in the field of psychosocial helping. It has, for instance, according to Macdonald (2011, 77-87) similarities with various approaches in psychotherapy, such as psychodynamic therapy (e.g., sensitivity to the client's words), client-centred therapy (e.g. confidence in client's own resources), behaviour therapy (e.g., use of goals), systems theory (e.g., the idea that personal change also affects others) and brief therapies (e.g., a non-expert stance on the part of the therapist). Slutzki (1992) notes that, apart from these well-known predecessors, the political movements of the fifties and sixties that inspired social psychiatry and anti-psychiatric movements in the field of mental health work were also important prerequisites for the development of systemic - and thus of solution-focused approaches - to therapy. Slutzki sees, for example, Furman's and Ahola's book on solution-focused therapy (Furman & Ahola, 1992) as a great representative of the new development in the field of mental health work that is characterized

by a demystifying attitude of respectful collaboration in the therapeutic endeavor, by a stance toward expert knowledge on the part of the therapist that bars oppression and enhances authorship on the part of the patients, by a context-based view of problems and predicaments that increase people's own alternative options and responsibility. (Slutzki, 1992, ix)

It is, of course, an empirically open question whether and how individual therapists in different institutional settings actually realize these ideals (see e.g., Hollanders & McLeod, 1999). Nevertheless, it is worthwhile noting that both subject-scientific and solutionfocused approaches can be seen as part of the same, or a similar, historical movement in western societies (see also Markard, 2009).

Solution-focused therapy is often regarded as a postmodern therapy that is philosophically based in social constructionism (see e.g., De Jong & Berg, 2008). In this respect, it is clear that subject-scientific and solution-focused approaches entail conflicting ideas that deserve a thorough discussion. This discussion can be seen as already having been started by Cavkaytar (2000), who discusses the similarities and differences between the subjectscientific approach and social constructionism. An interesting treatise in this sense is also Friele's discussion with regard to systemic therapies (Friele, 2008). A worthwhile idea in this regard is to see both subject-scientific and solution-focused approach as approaches that recognise that an individual's existence is delineated through the possible futures and their tensions inherent in each present situation (see Suorsa, 2015, 2014, 2011b). In the subject-scientific approach, this recognition is obvious as an individual's existence is seen as mediated through societally produced possibilities for action and experience. In solution-focused practice the foreseeable futures of the client also play a significant role (see the section entitled Solution-focused practice and subject-scientific research). …

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