This book aims to help therapists working with clients who struggle with depression by offering them solution-focused (SF) viewpoints and skills. The book invites all professionals to change their focus from what is wrong to what is right with their clients, and from what isn’t working to what is working in their lives.
The book contains 101 solution-focused questions (and more) for help with depression, with a focus on the clients’ preferred future and the pathways to get there.
As Insoo Kim Berg put it in her foreword for Fredrike Bannink’s highly successful 1001 Solution-Focused Questions: Handbook for Solution-Focused Interviewing, “SFBT is based on the respectful assumption that clients have the inner resources to construct highly individualized and uniquely effective solutions to their problems.”
From the more than 2,000 questions she has collected over the years, Bannink has selected the 101 most relevant for each subject. Much of the material in the 3-volume set is unique and did not appear in the earlier work, inviting therapists to open themselves to a new light on interviewing clients.
“Fredrike Bannink has written a useful text that invites professionals to change their focus from what is wrong with their clients to what is right, and from what isn't working in their lives, to what is working.
The first chapter reminds us to do this because we have all experienced client hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and depression.
Chapter 2 states that solution-focused brief therapy is the pragmatic application of a set of principles and tools. It is best described as finding the direct route to what works, whereby clients can have a deeper awareness of their strengths and resources.
The section on solution-focused questions is particularly useful, especially in "Working from the Future Back" where readers can find questions such as: "Suppose I made a full recovery. What would have helped me recover?" and "How would I have found the courage to do that?" (p. 36) These questions are used to invite the client to focus on a solution and what they did to solve their problem.
In "Creating Context for Change," the author highlights the importance of empathic understanding as well as affirmation when people experience pain in their lives. Chapter 5 uses the analogy of a taxi driver who asks a passenger the question "Where to?" instead of "Where from?" Readers can find a wide array of questions that can serve as examples they can use with their clients. For instance: "What are your best hopes?" and "What difference will it make when your best hopes are met?" (p. 87)
Chapter 6, "Finding Competence," is about the capacities that people have that can help them live better lives. To find strengths and resources, the therapist can have the client ask themselves solution-focused questions such as, "What strengths do others think l possess to stand up to depression?"
This text has plenty of ideas about concrete activities clients can perform in order to feel better. Exercise 25, "Acts of Kindness," (p. 138) states: "Performing acts of kindness produces a great momentary increase in wellbeing, especially if people perform five acts of kindness in one day.'' This can be an easy task assignment for our clients as we can encourage them to be creative.
Chapter 6, "Competence," discusses the idea that despite life's struggles, people can still be competent. This could be an excellent topic to discuss with a client when dealing with problem of depression.
Chapter 7, "Working on Progress'' is about exploring what has improved and letting the client know that things do not heed to be perfect. Instead therapists can ask questions suggesting that some progress has already been made. For example: "What is better?", or as an alternative, "What is different?" (p. 123). The importance of gratitude as a means for counterbalancing depression can increase happiness levels and decrease depression.
Chapter 10 focuses on well-being and explains how those who are depressed may " ...pay less attention to their partner or children, be less involved, be more irritable, or have trouble enjoying time together." (p. 163) There is an interesting shift in this chapter as later there are exercises aimed at helping people improve their quality of life, for example by encouraging them to spend quality time with friends. The exercises highlight the importance of healthy relationships. Finally, the book covers the therapist's well-being -- and how we need to take care of ourselves to care for others.
I enjoyed reading this book.”
Maria Escalante de Smith2018 Spring Issue Milton H. Erickson Newsletter