Therapeutic ApproachEs Explained

Solution Focused Brief Therapy

Rather than dwelling on an individual's weaknesses and limitations, solution-focused therapy concentrates solely on an individual's strengths and possibilities to help them move forward. It works by helping a person overcome problems without tackling them directly - using the solution-building concept to foster change and help individuals to develop a set of clear, concise and realistic goals. It is the role of a solution-focused therapist to help elicit and implement these solutions via a series of discussions.

In these discussions, the therapist will help individuals to envisage a clear and detailed picture of how they see their future - and how things will be better once changes are made. They will also encourage them to explore past experiences and times when they were as happy as they see themselves in their future vision. These processes aim to evoke a sense of hope and expectation and make a future solution seem possible.

It is essentially the future vision that drives the therapy process forward - ensuring that it is directional and as a result, brief. Therapists can use this future solution to shape the techniques and questions that will comprise discussions. These aim to help the individual realise their potential and find the courage to move forward.

The solution-focused approach involves a variety of techniques used by a therapist to clarify solutions and help the person seeking help find ways of achieving them. These are generally a set of questions tailored to the individual and their specific circumstances.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of talking therapy which was originally developed by an American psychologist named Marsha Linehan. It is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but has been adapted to meet the particular needs of people who experience emotions very intensely.

It is mainly used to treat problems associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD), such as: repeated self-harming, attempting suicide, using alcohol or drugs to control emotions, eating problems, such as binge eating and purging and unstable relationships.

Amongst other interventions, such as behavioural chain analysis, the DBT Therapist uses two main approaches of intervention, Acceptance techniques and Change techniques. 

Acceptance techniques focus on understanding yourself as a person, and making sense of why you might use self destructive behaviours, such as self harm, mistreat yourself, or misuse alcohol or illicit substances. A DBT therapist might suggest that this behaviour may have been the only way you have learned to deal with the intense emotions you feel – so even though it’s damaging to you in the long-term, and might be very alarming to other people, your behaviour actually makes sense and works at the present moment when it's needed.

DBT therapists use change techniques to encourage you to change your behaviour and learn more effective ways of dealing with your distress. They encourage you to replace behaviours that are harmful to you with behaviours that can help you move forward with your life. For example, you can learn how you can distract yourself from difficult emotions during crises, by engaging in activities, instead of self-harming, or turning to substances that distort the way you view reality. You can also start challenging your unhelpful thoughts and develop a more balanced way of looking at things.


Mindfulness and skills used to develop increased mindfulness have emerged as an important focus of several empirically supported treatments. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for borderline personality disorder, mindfulness-based cognitive behaviour therapy for depression, and mindfulness-based stress reduction are based in mindfulness. The roots of mindfulness practice are in the contemplative practices common to both eastern and western spiritual disciplines and to the emerging scientific knowledge about the benefits of “allowing” experiences rather than suppressing or avoiding them.

Mindfulness in its totality has to do with the quality of awareness that a person brings to everyday living; learning to control your mind, rather than letting your mind control you. Mindfulness as a practice directs your attention to only one thing, and that one thing is the moment you are living in. When you recognise the moment, what it looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like – you are being mindful. Further, mindfulness is the process of observing, describing, and participating in reality in a non-judgmental manner, in the moment and with effectiveness. At the same time, mindfulness is the window to acceptance, freedom, and wisdom.

Mindfulness is used within counselling practice to learn how to better position oneself with the present over "running away" with how we feel, or creating perceived experiences based around forward thinking or different unhelpful thinking styles such as catastrophic thinking, or over dramatization.  

Systemic and Family Systems Work

Systemic family work has been found to be effective for children's and adults' difficulties, both when individuals have acquired a mental health diagnosis and when there is more general or complex distress. It is effective across the lifecycle, spanning developmental stages from under fives to old age. Working therapeutically with individuals together with their families and/or significant others enables the use of individuals’ relationships as a resource, and reduces stress and difficulties for all family members. Family therapy and systemic interventions have also been found to be particularly effective during severe and complex disorders requiring extensive treatment. Systemic family therapy can sometimes include relational work with individuals, psycho-educational approaches and multiple family groups.

In recent years, family therapists have started to call themselves `systemic therapists’ as they pay more attention to the impact of wider systems and social contexts on people’s lives. The systemic perspective – which underpins the practice of most family based interventions – views the problems of an individual in relation to the different contexts in which this individual lives: i.e. as a partner in a couple relationship, as a family member, a person with particular cultural and/or religious allegiances, while also taking into account socio-economic circumstances and political processes. Systemic practice considers `context’ as being of paramount significance for an individual’s psychological development and emotional well-being.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of talking treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems. It combines cognitive therapy (examining the things you think) and behaviour therapy (examining the things you do).

In CBT you work with your therapist or counsellor to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns and behaviour which may be causing you difficulties. In turn this can change the way you feel about situations, and enable you to change your behaviour in future. You and your counsellor might focus on what is going on in your life right now, but you might also look at your past, and think about how your past experiences impact the way you see the world.

More Information

For more information on any of the above approaches, or to gain more of an understanding on how any of the above approaches maybe incorporated within your counselling experience, please do not hesitate to contact Adam or ANJ Consultancy directly via the 'Contact Us' tab above.