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Doing What Works in Brief Therapy - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780125696609, 9780080530499

Doing What Works in Brief Therapy

1st Edition

A Strategic Solution Focused Approach

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Author: Ellen Quick
eBook ISBN: 9780080530499
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 11th March 1996
Page Count: 244
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Table of Contents

The Model and Its Origins: The Model. Brief Strategic Therapy: The MRI Approach. Solution Focused Therapy: The BFTC Approach. Combining Models. The Strategic Solution Focused Model.

Clarifying the Problem: Whats the Trouble? Prioritizing Problems. "Who, What, When, and Where?" In what Way is This a Problem? To Whom is This a Problem? Translating Vague Constructs to Clear Complaints When the Problem is the Past. A Different Problem Every Time. Problem Clarification as Invervention. Celeste: "My Mother was Very Sick Mentally."

Amplifying the Solution: Variations on the Miracle Question: The Miracle Question. David: "I Wouldn't Hate Going to Work." Identifying and Amplifying Exceptions. Scaling Questions. Variations on the Miracle Question. Miracle Questioning as Problem Clarification. Miracle Questioning as Intervention.

Evaluating Attempted Solutions: If It Doesn't Work, Do Something Different: Eliciting Attempted Solutions. Interrupting Unsuccessful Attempted Solutions. Change Slowly. Depression: When "Cheer Up" Doesn't Work. Anxiety: When "Don't Worry" Doesn't Work. Interrupting Unsuccessful Attempted Solutions in Relationships. Parents and Children: Reversing What Doesn't Work. Attempted Solutions to Eating Problems. Sexual Solutions: Interrupting "Forced Arousal." Recognizing Individualized Attempted Solutions.

Designing the Intervention: Validation, Compliment, and Suggestion: The Three-Part Intervention. Validating. Complimenting. Designing Suggestions for Customers, Complainants, and Visitors. Presenting the Suggestion: Using the Client's "Position." Suggestions, Specific and "Generic."

Therapist Decisions: Clarifying, Amplifying, or Interrupting: General Guidelines. When Problem Clarification Doesn't Clarify. When Solution Amplification Doesn't Create Solutions. When Doing Something Different Doesn't Help. Shifting Stances as Therapy Progresses.

Couples: Problems and Solutions: Starting with the Couple Together. Clarifying the Problem. Elaborating the Solution. Three-Part Interventions for Couples. Jill and Nick: "Communication is a Problem." Follow-Up: Together or Separately? Therapist Concerns. Starting With One Person.

Coping with Difficult Situations: Clarifying and "Deconstructing" Difficult Problems and Unattainable Goals. Coping Questions. Amplifying the Coping Response. Interrupting Unsuccessful Coping Solutions. Coping with Indecision. Using Therapist Impotence: "I Can't Make It All Go Away."

Medication and the Model: When the Client Wants Medicine. When the Client Does Not Want Medicine. Medication as an Option. "When It Doesn't Work, Do Something Different" and Medicine. When the Client is Already Taking Medicine.

Brief Therapy: Problems and Solutions in Managed Care: Cost Containment Issues. A Model That "Works" in Managed Care. Intermittent Care: "The Family Practice Model." How Many Sessions? "Not One More Than Necessary." Spacing Sessions. Follow-Up Sessions. "Termination" in Intermittent Care. Practical Considerations. Single-Session Therapy. Caveats in Brief Therapy and Managed Care. Extensions for the Future?

Case Examples: Intermittent Care: Harriet: "I Guess I Come When I Need You." Kevin: A Week Away From Work. Gail: "Rage Attacks Forever." Jeffrey and Claudia: Sex Drive Differences.

Excerpts: Single Session Therapy: Mary's Miracle. Liz: "I Blow Up At Him."

Excerpts: Brief Therapy: Megan: "Problems with My Father." Jack: Trichotillomania. Gloria: The Inconsistent Overeater. References. Subject Index.


The first of its kind, Doing What Works in Brief Therapy is a guidebook to strategic solution focused therapy, a model which combines the principles and techniques of the Mental Research Institute's brief strategic therapy and the Brief Family Therapy Center's solution focused therapy. The book explains how the strategic emphasis on clarification of the problem and interruption of what does not work can complement and enhance the solution-focused emphasis on amplification of what does work. The text reviews the theory and presents specific treatment techniques. Case examples illustrate how the model has been used in brief, intermittent, and single-session therapy in a managed care setting.

Brief psychotherapy doesn't have to result in chronic frustration for the therapist or superficial, second-rate care for the client. This book presents an approach that is upbeat, practical, and eminently workable in managed care. The reader learns to focus on critical issues with exquisite precision and to construct creative, individualized interventions that amplify what works and interrupt what does not.

Key Features

  • Integrates strategic therapy and solution focused therapy
  • Includes guidelines for intervention and when to do what
  • Provides applications for couples: indications for separate or joint sessions
  • Considers both therapy and medication as successful and unsuccessful solutions
  • Features excerpts and clinically rich examples


Mental health professionals: psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, marriage and family counselors, and graduate students in these fields.


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 1996
11th March 1996
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:


"This is a delightful book that should prove useful to any clinician who uses short term therapy--or even long-term therapy... It is an excellent synopsis of both problem oriented and solution oriented therapies. The integration of both methods is skillfully wrought... The style is efficient, straightforward, easy-to-understand. This is a bright, keen, lively piece of work that I would recommend to any practicing clinician." --CAROL SHAW AUSTAD, New Britain, Connecticut

"Quick...succeeds in her attempt to create a merger that is both theoretically satisfying and clinically practical... with narrative case examples to give a step-by-step feel and... provides extended case examples illustrating application to intermittent, single-session, and brief therapy... Her documentation is thorough without being academic, and her style is readable and precise... A useful guide for those feeling solution-forced as well as those looking for positive, hopeful ways of working in today's practice climate." --Frank Thomas in JOURNAL OF MARITAL AND FAMILY THERAPY

Ratings and Reviews

About the Author

Ellen Quick

Ellen K. Quick, Ph.D., earned her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She has practiced psychology for over twenty years, specializing in brief psychotherapy. Since 1981, Dr. Quick has worked at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, California.

Affiliations and Expertise

Kaiser Permanente, San Diego, CA, USA