Classic SF paper: Beyond Complaints – Gale Miller & Steve de Shazer

December 16, 2009


This essay represents the evolution of thinking about solution focused brief therapy within the Milwaukee group in the late 1980s and early 1990s. (See also the changing language of Steve de Shazer’s books – 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991 – during this time.) This essay is one take on a solution
focused interactional view of therapy, a view that emphasises the collaborative building of solutions. Wittgenstein’s (1958) concept of language games is central to this discussion, as it continues to be today. The strong focus on goals in this essay is, however not so emphasised in contemporary solution focused brief therapy conversations. While explicit goal-setting remains an option in solution focused brief therapy sessions, goal-setting is now recognised as an implicit aspect of conversations about the future. Two aspects of the essay have not been significantly developed by solution focused brief therapy writers. The first involves exploring how solution focused brief therapy is a distinctive process of narrative construction. Such explorations might extend the longstanding emphasis on Wittgensteinian philosophy in solution focused brief therapy. The second undeveloped theme in this paper is deconstructionism. De Shazer drew on aspects of deconstructionism in Putting Difference to Work, but much is left to be done in this area. This is the first time this essay has been published in English.

The full paper is available to SFCT members in the InterAction journal.  Please add your comments on the paper below.


Solution-Focused Interviewing Protocols as Evolutionary Algorithms – Paolo Terni

December 16, 2009


Darwin’s algorithm has been shown to be Nature’s way of exploring the “solution space” for problems related to survival and reproduction. This paper shows how SF conversations (as used in therapy and brief coaching) can be framed as a Darwinian algorithm to explore the “solution space” for the problems clients bring to the session.

The full paper is in the InterAction journal and available to SFCT members.  Please add your comments below.

The Grammar of Neuroscience: What can and cannot be said about brains and minds by Kirsten Dierolf MA PCC and Mark McKergow PhD MBA

May 27, 2009


While we are encouraged by the appearance of articles about neuroscience which support SF practice, we urge caution in interpreting these findings on three grounds. The different grammars of neuroscience (molecular grammar) and SF practice (people grammar) are not transposable, and according to Wittgenstein one cannot be reduced to the other. There is a risk of falling for the mereological fallacy – applying to a part (a brain) something which can only be applied to a whole (a person). Finally, the fundamentally social aspect of language calls into question our everyday assumptions about the links between mind, brain and language. Wittgenstein and others offer a way to say what can be said clearly, and to be as unmuddled as possible in our investigations and discussions.

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Please add your comments below.