Solution Focused and Narrative Therapy

Posted: September 3rd, 2013


Solution Focused and Narrative Therapy







Solution Focused and Narrative Therapy


In the field of psychology, therapeutic theories have been developed, by scholars, to help in healing people. However, some of them are quite similar, while others are different. The main aim of the theories is to offer help psychologist offer diagnosis to patients. There are two theories, solution focused theory and narrative therapy theory, which are of significant help in the field of psychology. These two theories were developed for treating patients who suffer from different emotional problems. Therefore, when the two theories are analyzed a comparison can be made with the system theory.


Solution Focus Theory

Solution focus theory can be described as a form of therapy that concentrates more on seeking solutions for the patients rather than finding the problem with the patients. This means that when patients are being treated the psychologists do not concentrate on the problems affecting the patients. Instead, they concentrated on those activities that are helping the patient’s life. These activities are meant to add value to the patient’s life and not destroying it, where Bryan (2009) says, “Solutions-Focused Therapy does not emphasize problems; rather, the emphasis is on identifying things within the helpee’s life that are working well and using them as a basis to empower the helpee.” Therefore, solution focused theory concentrates more on solutions rather than problems.

Major Concepts

There are three major concepts of solution focus theory. The first concept states that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ (Bryan 2009). In this concept, the theory encourages psychologists to concentrate on the activities a patient uses to overcome a problem. It mean that, “this relates to a rule that if the helpee is not complaining about something, do not delve into an issue,” (Bryan, 2009). On the other hand, it discourages psychologist to find solutions to problems. This is where therapists are not supposed to concentrate on those issues affecting the patient. In this case, during a therapy sessions, psychologists tries to highlight those activities a patient was using correctly to solve the problem. Using this concept, patients are easily cured as they concentrate more on what is helping them to solve their problems.

The second concept of solution focus theory is more of a continuation from the first concept. It states that ‘once you know what works, do more of it’ (Bryan, 2009). In this concept, therapists are always encouraged to find those activities done correctly by the patient. After they have analyzed and identified them, therapists should encourage patients to take them more often since they have already proved that they work well. It means, “…therapeutic work should be focused on identifying times when the problem is not happening,” (Bryan, 2009). Moreover, these activities should be repeated continuously by the patient for them to work effectively.  In reality, therapists should focus on the areas moving on well and not areas that have problems. In the end, the areas moving on well will solve those areas or activities that are not working well.

The third concept states that ‘If it does not work, then do not do it again, do something different’ (Bryan, 2009). This concept is very simple because even the patient can be able to follow through easily. In this case, patients at all times should be encouraged to analyze those activities that work for them and those that do not. After a clear analysis, they should not dwell on the activities that do not work. Instead, they should continue performing those activities that work for them. When they continue to avoid the wrong activities and taking those that work for them, they eventually become healed. “the general idea with this concept is to assist the helpee to discover what works well in her life, … and also discover what does not work well and discontinue those activities …,” (Bryan, 2009).


There are three main goals of the three towards helping the patient in heals quickly. The first goal is reducing the conflicts where patients think that they ought to do an activity differently to solve their problems yet they have the solution. The second goal of the theory is to help patients stop thinking about their problems and start thinking about solutions. The third goal of the concept is helping patients create achievable goals in their lives rather than creating goals that are not achievable.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy can be described as a theory in therapy where the patients are encouraged to look back on various experiences to search for solutions to their problems. In this situation, psychologists are expected to evaluate experiences narrated by their patients to establish where mistakes are and solve the mistakes. Additionally, they evaluate those experiences that help patients and encourage their patients to follow them (Nichols, 2011). Therefore, this theory focuses on the experiences of the patients to find solutions to patient’s problems. “The narrative metaphor focuses on how experience generates expectations and how expectations shape experience through the creation of organizing stories,” (Nichols, 2011)

Major Concepts

There is one major concept of this theory. This concept states that people past events helps in shaping present behaviors of the people. This concept means that problems can be derived from patients and not from the old interpretation where patients do not believe they are part of the problem. According to this concept, patients are led to change their notion that problems just arise from nowhere. Therefore, using their experiences they are able to establish what could have caused the problem and try to rectify the problem. With this in mind, psychologists can help their patients to solve whatever problem they may be affecting them.

Expanding these concepts, human beings come across many experiences in their lives. In their experiences, humans are the ones to choose those experiences to follow and those experiences to do away with. As a result, they end up building their behaviors and characters in the end. From the interpretations developed by humans based on experiences might be positive or negative. Those who choose negative views end up suffering along since they only view future events negatively. Using this concept of the theory, there interpretation can be changed for a positive future thus solving the problem.

Finally, this concept establishes that patients are not the problem but behaviors portrayed by them. For instance, a patient might always have a negative attitude towards a certain activity due to experiences with the activity. However, this activity might be of great help to him or her if embraced properly. This shows that the character that has been built in the patients mind is presuming to be a problem since it is deterring him or her to stop achieving the benefit of the activity. In this case, the concept clearly puts the blame on the behaviors rather than the patients thus reducing stress on the patient.


The main goals of this theory are based on the psychologists understanding the story line of patients to establish where the problem. For this reason, the first goal of this theory is to assists patients to construct new positive stories that will help them solve their problems. In this situation, psychologists help patients to construct positive thoughts. The second goal of the theory is to deconstruct the lives of the patients. This is where the patients are surrounded by too many negative thoughts and attitudes and they need to change. In this case, therapists are expected to help patients change those discouraging thoughts with encouraging thoughts. Lastly, the theory aims at externalizing problems. This is where patients, with the help of a therapist, establish instances they were able to resist negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

Differences between Solution Focus and Narrative Theory with System Theory

Based on the two theories, they both emphasis on solutions rather than the problem. For instance, in solution focus theory, therapists are supposed to encourage their patients to perform those activities that help them thus reinforcing their solutions. Similarly, narrative therapy entails using experiences to find solutions that will solve the patient problems. When these two theories are compared to the systems theory, the situation is different. System theory focuses on the problems for solutions. This is where a patient is expected to evaluate where he or she is going wrong based on a group for the purposes of finding new ways to solve the problem (Nichols, 2011).

The other difference with these theories is that systems theory uses a group to find solution for the problems. On the other hand, Solution focus theory and narrative theory, only need to use one patient to come with a solution. For instance, in system theory, patient’s behaviors are observed on a group context for easier analysis. After observation, therapists can now come up with a conclusive solution of solving the problem. In the other two theories, therapists only need their patients to evaluate where the problems are and find solutions to these problems.

Finally, all the theories have a similarity in them. This is where they are all applicable in a family setting. This means that are applied to treating patients in a family to strengthen their relationship with the other members of the family. For instance, solution focus theory helps the patients understand what he or she is supposed to be doing to strengthen the family ties rather than breaking them. Narrative theory establishes those experiences that were positive towards the family thus encouraging the patient to dwell on them leading to the strengthening of the family. Lastly, system theory establishes where a patient goes wrong in a family context and creates new behaviors that will reinforce the family.


Therapeutic theories are mostly based on understanding the human behavior for the purposes of coming up with solutions to solve their problems. There are two theories, solution focus theory and narrative, that helps solve family problems. These theories are extremely distinct from the other theories because they only concentrate on the solutions rather than the problems to solve the problems. It may sound complicated but the two theories have proved to be effective in the field of psychology.



Nicholas, M. P. (2011). Essentials of family Therapy. New York, NY: Pearson.

Understanding Family Therapy. The Professional Helper

Expert paper writers are just a few clicks away

Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.

Calculate the price of your order

You will get a personal manager and a discount.
We'll send you the first draft for approval by at
Total price: