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Limitations and Criticisms

  • While the rapid and relatively uncomplicated style that characterizes SFBT has made it a prevalent therapeutic modality across cultures, in an array of circumstances, and for a wide range of presenting problems, many of these attributes have been criticized as limitations of the approach.
  • One such criticism is that SFBT affords therapists little opportunity to express empathy for the client and understand the underlying emotional needs that may be present in conjunction with the client’s identified problem.  
  • Similarly, the exceptionally brief duration of SFBT, sometimes only a single session, minimizes the potential development of a robust therapist-client relationship, which is fundamental in humanistic and Adlerian approaches to psychotherapy.
  • SFBT limits the therapist’s role, as goals are established by the client, perhaps without regard to any more significant or underlying concerns that may be operating to sustain the problem’s existence if those factors are unrecognized by the client. Moreover, the client decides when the work is done, and the problem has been solved.
  • On a more pragmatic level, a solution-focused therapist, especially in private practice, may not have the reliability that comes from a population of clients consistently scheduling weekly appointments. In addition, they must be prepared to continuously work with new clients, as SFBT involves very few sessions.

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