Inspirations Teen Brief Therapy

Brief Therapy is a term that refers to an approach of psychotherapy in which the therapist works with clients to solve problems is a less time than traditional or long term therapy. “The purpose of brief therapy is not to “understand” the cause of a given problem, but to find fertile ways of thinking about it and practical ideas to deal with it” (Hoyt, 1994, p. 41). The Brief Therapy approach was pioneered by Milton H. Erickson (Hoyt, p. 41). It was later expanded to include other therapeutic family therapy approaches (strategic therapy, systemic family therapy, solution-focused therapy, narrative therapy), yet the therapeutic approaches that have followed, continue to keep the term of “brief therapy” a core component of each therapeutic approach.

Solution Focused Therapy

During therapy with adolescents, especially those adolescents who are struggling with behavior problems or drug abuse problems, it is helpful to ask the teen client to describe how life will be different when the problems that were occurring when he or she entered Inspirations Teen Rehab, are no longer present. The answers a teen provides, is a sign of hope and possibility. It is a way of looking forward, and the beginning of working toward solutions. It is equally effective for therapists working with families in therapy to apply this same technique.

There are several techniques family therapists use in working with teens and families. Following a solution-focused therapeutic approach in a brief therapy atmosphere, is preferred by therapists at Inspirations Teen Rehab.

Solution-Focused Therapeutic Techniques

Recognize the Client as the expert. Solutions focused therapists enlist the client as the expert in knowing the client’s history, perceptions, and experiences. Teens are the best historians for their behaviors and experiences, as it relates to their perceptions. Teenagers have a life independent of their family, leaving most parents unaware of the daily life experiences of their teenage child.

Elicit Resources from Clients. Each teen has resources and abilities. The therapist works with the teen client in discussing the client’s characteristics, abilities, knowledge, and strengths, as tools to empower the client, and focus on the future and ability to find solutions. Most teenagers can describe personal characteristics, talents, or extracurricular activities, or hobbies that the teen can use as resources for working to resolve conflicts or issues.

Focus on Exceptions and Progress. The therapist works with the teen client, eliciting exceptions to the problem. This is accomplished by the therapist asking the teen client to describe times when the problem does not exist or is less severe. For example, most teenagers can describe positive life experiences prior to using drugs or prior to having behaviors that appeared disruptive. It is also common for teenagers to describe times in their life when drug use does not occur or when good behavior occurs. “Focusing on exceptions allows people to think that they themselves have more control over the problem than is at first apparent.: (Hoyt, 1994, page 58)

Set Goals. Setting realistic and attainable goals is a technique that inspires the teen client to focus on small, workable goals or assignments, encouraging the client to remain engaged in the therapeutic process. Inspirations’ therapists often co-creates goals, with the teen client, helping the client to meet not only personal goals but also external goals necessary for the client to remain in the residential program.