Solution Focused Interactions are a relatively new approach to problem resolution and positive change, often helping clients achieve their goals in a short period of time.

Rather than focusing on what the problem is and where it came from, Solution Focused Interactions focus on the future and what we will be doing when the problem is gone. There is little attempt to look at the past, to understand problems, or to explain how the client got where they are today; reflecting one of the approach’s key assumptions, that solutions do not necessarily have anything to do with problems.

The methodology draws implicitly on 2500 years of knowledge; from The Buddha to Ludwig Wittgenstein, explicitly on the individual and group work of Milton Erickson and John Weakland, and specifically on the work of Insoo Kim Berg and Steve De Shazer, at the Brief Family Therapy Centre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This approach is similar to the maze puzzles we used to play as children. If we try and 'solve' the maze, we frequently end up going down 'blind alleys' and becoming stuck. However, some of us discovered that if we started at the end of the maze (where we wanted to get to) and worked backwards, the process was much more straightforward and less time consuming.

Therapy & Coaching

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Over the years, SFBT has been utilised in clinical areas such as family work, adult mental health nursing, health visiting, child care and social work, occupational therapy, and also in the prison services. Systematic review and meta-analysis of outcome research suggests that SFBT is at least as effective as other forms of talking therapy, with over 60% of cases reporting successful outcomes, and treatment typically delivered in 3 to 5 sessions.

The approach has its roots in the anthropological work of Gregory Bateson, the family therapy approaches of Don Jackson and colleagues at the Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto, in the systemic therapy approach of the Milan Group of therapists lead by Mara Silvini-Palazzoli, and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Solution Focused Coaching (SFC)

SFC is the application of solution focused thinking and practice in the workplace. Whether coaching individuals or teams, or training individuals to coach others, solution focused interactions provides a positive, future focused framework for positive change.

Based on the therapeutic work of SFBT, SFC builds on the existing platform of expertise and knowledge to help co-construct the individual's future perfect scenario. It then explores how close you are to attaining that future perfect, and builds on this to bring about a measurable outcome based action plan. A paper published by Dr Peter Szabo, a Doctor of Law and Master Certified Coach, in Switzerland, provides an excellent reflection on the assumptions underpinning solution focused coaching.


Solution Focused Interactions at Robert Gordon university is the hub of a growing community of scholars, academics, therapists, and practitioners coming together to share their experience of working in solution focused interactions.

We offer a range of training courses and workshops in Solution Focused Interactions; delivered at your site, to your staff. We provide training in solution focused interactions, solution focused brief therapy, and solution focused coaching for teams and organisations. We also provide a forum for discussion among solution focused practitioners, maintain a focus for research and scholarly activity in the field of solution focused practice, and offer student support and self-help materials within the university.

Since 1997, we have provided training in solution focused brief therapy throughout the UK, from the Island of Orkney in the north to Portsmouth in the south, and in 2006 launched the first academically accredited training course in solution focused therapy in Scotland. The Solution Focused Interactions community is co-ordinated by Steve Smith and includes Dr. Mary Addo, Dorothy Adam and Pamela Kirkpatrick.

Courses & Workshops

We offer a range of training events from two-day workshops to SCQF accredited courses, and bespoke training events built around your needs.

The School of Nursing & Midwifery at RGU offers two courses that teach various facets of Solution Focused Interactions. 

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (One Semester)
Application of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (Two Semesters)

In addition to these courses, the following workshops are offered on a regular basis:

A two-day Introduction to Solution Focused Approaches workshop
A four-day Introduction to Solution Focused Approaches workshop
A three-day Solution Focused Approach to Supervision workshop

We are currently training groups of staff from NHS Health Boards around the country. We are, or have recently worked with:

  • NHS Fife 
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde 
  • NHS Orkney 
  • NHS Tayside 
  • NHS Western Isles

If you are interested in organising a training event for your organisation, please contact Steve Smith and we will be happy to discuss how we can provide you with the training you need. 

Learning Resources

Listed below are some great resources surrounding Solution Focused Interactions provided by world renowned practitioners.


  • In their lifetime Steve De Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg made their work freely available to download from the BFTC website. Following Insoo's death, and the closure of the BFTC, these materials were unavailable; however, they have now been made available by the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Association.
  • Eve Lipchick, one of the founders of the Solution Focused approach at the BFTC, reflects on the roots of solution focused working, and it's links to the work of John Weakland at the Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto.
  • A very interesting report by Plamen Panayotov from the Solutions Centre in Rousse, Bulgaria, on the positive impact of SFBT on client's medication compliance.
  • Tapio Malinen, a teacher in solution focused and narrative therapy in Finland, discusses the development of the solution focused approach based on his conversations with Elam Nunnally, one of the founders of the approach at the BFTC.


  • Coert Visser, a solution focused trainer, coach and author in The Netherlands, offers a series of interviews on his blog including; Insoo Kim Berg, Eve Lipchick, Wally Gingerich, and many others.
  • Harry Norman, Mark McKergow and Jenny Clarke interviewed Steve De Shazer (c. 2005), in what must have been one of his last visits to the UK. In this interview they discuss a range of issues including Steve's influences, inspiration, and his ideas around language and meaning.