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Milton Erikson

Influenced solution-focused therapy.

Steven de Schazer

Credited with developing Solution Focused Therapy.

Insoo Kim Berg

Credited with developing Solution Focused Therapy.

ecosystemic epistemology

That there is a reciprocal, mutual process of behavior, thinking and deciding among therapeutic team and family members; thus, a change in the family will impact the therapeutic process and vice versa.

binocular theory of change

If the therapist presents the family with a slightly different pattern than their own, the family will recognize the similarities and accept the pattern of change including embracing the differences.

Bill O'Hanlon

Took solution-oriented therapy a step further by emphasizing solutions and creating possibility therapy.

Michele Weiner-Davis

Is known for her solution-oriented approach with couples.


A client who does not wish to participate in therapy, does not have a complaint, and does not wish to work on anything.


A client who describes a problem but is unwilling to resolve it.


A client who is actively involved in the therapeutic process.

miracle question

Asking families for a hypothetical solution to their problems. "If you were to wake up tomorrow and a miracle occurred and you no longer had this problem, how would your life be different?"


Looking for the positive or the exception to the family's problem. "Tell me about the one time that you didn't argue and fight. What was the exception?"

scaling questions

Looking for the positive or the exception to the family's problem. "On a scale of 1-10, where do you see your relationship as a couple? What would it take to make it higher?"

blaming stories

Beliefs and stories which describe clients, therapists, or others as having bad intentions or traits.

deterministic stories

Stories that suggest that someone has no choices about what his body does (voluntary actions) or has no ability to make any difference in what happens to his life.

invalidating stories

Ideas or beliefs that a client's personal experiences or knowledge is being undermined by others.


The imposition of the therapist's beliefs and therapeutic values (and favorite diagnoses) on the client and her family.


Working together in therapy to create a reality.


Challenging what we take for granted. Is it simply a reality created by family and society?

scaling question

Signature of solution focus therapy. Technique includes, "If you are a 5, how did you manage not to get to a 1?"


Establishes a positive, hopeful atmosphere within the therapeutic relationship

formula first session task

Clients are asked to think about what they do not want to change about their lives as a result of therapy

more of the same assignments

After an exception to a problem has been found, de Shazer instructs the client to practice this behavior

skeleton key question

A task assigned by the therapist, often prior to meeting in person, where the client is asked to come up with one thing in the relationship or family system that they want to stay the same.

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