Solutions Center is a joint venture that aims at promoting the philosophy and idea of Solution-Focused Approach in various areas of professional practice. This philosophy is increasingly applicable both in therapy and in the broadly understood psychological assistance. In addition, it is used in many other non-therapeutic environments, such as education, upbringing, social work, or human resources management, etc.
We have the honor and pleasure of managing the first stationary addiction therapy centers in Poland, whose programs are based on the assumptions of Solution-Focused Approach. The Centers operate within the structures of the Provincial Addiction Therapy Center in Toruń (Poland).
Jacek Szczepkowski, PhD
Therapist, trainer and SFA supervisor, certified specialist in addiction psychotherapy, assistant professor at the Faculty of Education of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, head of the Addiction Treatment Center for Adoloscents in Toruń, member of European Brief Therapy Assocciation, author of articles and studies on methodology of Solution-Focused Therapy and the author of the first Polish book on Solution_Focused Therapy: “Therapy of adolescents with a drug problem. Solution-Focused Approach”.
Artur Lewiński, MA
Solution-Focused therapist and trainer, certified addiction therapist, NLP practitioner, head of the Short-Term Addiction Therapy Center in Toruń, member of the European Brief Therapy Assocciation and the current President of The Polish Association of Solution-Focused Therapists.
Inga Leszniewska, MA
Educator, SFA therapist, Ericksonian therapist, sociotherapist. She works in the Addiction Treatment Center for Adoloscents in Toruń and has private therapeutic practice.
Zofia Robaczewska, MA
Recommendations and cooperation
For over a dozen years, we have been providing trainings for various professional groups, including educators, psychologists, psychotherapists, teachers, social workers, probation officers and regarding the specifics and methods of working with their clients or patients We’ve worked with many institutions, including:
Regional Social Policy Centers in Toruń, Olsztyn, Białystok,
Warmia and Mazury Teachers Training Center in Olsztyn,
Caritas Diocese of Toruń, Labor Office in Toruń, Youth Educational Center in Różanystok, etc. Participants invariably highly evaluate our trainings in terms of both content and organization. Our competence is confirmed by recommendations that were given to us by institutions.
Recommendations of the Regional Center for Social Policy in Toruń
Recommendation of the Labor Office for the city of Toruń
Recommendation of the Warmian-Masurian Teachers Training Center in Olsztyn
Anne Marie Schuller
Clinical psychologist, master of NLP, has been working with children and families for many years. Her education and professional experience include various therapeutic models, including systemic and short-term approaches. For 6 years he has been a training strategy consultant in one of the NHS units in the United Kingdom (National Health Service), where she created and ran training programs for practitioners working with families; advises members of the committee on training strategies, both at the local and national levels. Has experience in coaching of managerial staff. She is an honorary lecturer at the local university.
Tomasz Świtek, MA
Master of Social Prevention and Resocialization of the University of Warsaw, founder and leading member of the Center for Solution-Focused Approach. Has a certificate of the Korzybski Institute in Belgium in the field of solution-focused therapy and Ericksonian hypnotherapy, group trainer of the Polish Psychological Association, a certified specialist in addiction psychotherapy, a certified specialist in counteracting domestic violence. Member of the European Brief Therapy Association.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy belongs to one of the sixteen contemporary leading psychotherapeutic systems, referred to as constructivist therapies, gaining increasing popularity and recognition in recent years (J. O. Prochaska, J. C. Norcross, 2006).
The Solution-Focused Approach is not just a specific therapy model. Numerous examples of applications of this approach are found, among others, in the area of mental health, education, Solution-Focused Education, human resources management in business, or the practice of social work, social rehabilitation, etc. In addition, this model finds applications in both working with individuals and groups. In a therapeutic context, this approach works well with clients experiencing various problems, such as violence, depression, addictions, eating disorders, marital conflicts, etc.
The specificity of SFA defines the way of perceiving both the man himself, the nature of his problems, the possibilities of change and the most useful forms of helping people achieve it. A way that we can define as a radical approach, based on the idea of conversation, assuming the possibility of effective work on change without the need to explore or a detailed analysis of the nature of problems experienced by clients. This idea is based on two tenets: the meaning attributed to building the image of solutions that are the domain of the so-called preferred future of the client and the belief that clients have sufficient resources to materialize this image in their future, that is, achieve their goals.
Photo: Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg
They referred to the achievements of M. H. Erickson and the methods of work used at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto (J. Haley, D. Jacson and J. Weakland).
Photo: J. Szczepkowski & A. Lewiński in Palo Alto (California, USA), G. Bateson team.
At the source of this model, in its theoretical layer, we find references to the idea of postmodernism, poststructuralism, social constructionism, the concept of narrative identity and considerations regarding the role and meaning of language, undertook, among others by F. de Saussure, L. Wittgenstein, M. Foucault, or J. Derrida (J. Szczepkowski, 2016). In the words of S. de Shazer, this model consists of simple descriptions of similarities and differences in the various interventions for change (S. de Shazer, 1988, p. 84). By assumption, therefore, his description focuses mainly on what works, and ignores the answer to why something works. Therefore, its presentation is tantamount to making a description of its main principles, rather than explaining the mechanisms associated with specific interventions.
Basic assumptions of the Solution-Fused Therapy:
The key to understanding the Solution-Focused Approach are several assumptions:
Focus on positives, solutions, present and future.
Direction in therapy is determined by client’s needs and not by the problem.
One does not need to know the details of the problem to find a solution.
Exceptions from the problem suggest appropriate solutions – there are always moments when the worst reality looks a little better.
Small changes cause big changes.
Clients are full of resources needed to find a solution.
The client is an expert on his life, who sometimes needs support.
Clients know the appropriate solutions, they define the goals of therapy.
Resistance is not a useful concept at work – cooperation is inevitable.
There are many ways to look at a given situation, none is more appropriate than others.
As said by many SFA practitioners, the true authors of this approach, regardless of the sources and roots mentioned previously, are the clients themselves. It is from them that you can learn both what is helpful in finding the right solutions, as well as what does not work. Therefore, the most important assumptions of the Solution-Focused therapy model can be reduced to the so-called Central Philosophy, whose theses refer not only to therapists, but also to the clients themselves:
Once you know what works – DO MORE OF IT.
This principle indicates that it is worth repeating those activities and behaviors that we are convinced that are helpful and make a difference.
If it doesn’t work, don’t do it again. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT
It may also be helpful to be aware of what is not working. It is worth stopping doing what is ineffective and looking for another, even the simplest solution that will change something in a given situation. It’s about the difference that will make the difference.
If it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT
Most people have the misconception that if the problem is serious and complicated, the solution is also complicated and difficult. It sounds logical, but it is not. Solution-Focused Therapy assumes a minimalism in helping activities and suggests not to complicate the situation and start with the simplest solutions.
The paradox of „no theory”
The above issues, materializing both the theoretical foundations and the fundamental assumptions of this approach, materialize in contact with the client. In other words, they translate into the use of specific „tools” to help in dialogue with the client, which is to search for his own solutions. They boil down to the art of a useful conversation about solutions, about possibilities and exceptions, as well as about the client’s current location on the road to change and ideas how to achieve it.
Mark McKergow and Harry Korman, characterizing Solution Focused Approach and its specificity, emphasize that in this model there is no specific theory of change (M. McKergow, H. Korman, 2009). We are dealing here with a situation that, paradoxically, we could call the theory of the lack of theory (P. Z. Jackson, M. McKergow, London 2002, p. 9). Proponents of this way of thinking reject all assumptions concerning both internal (beliefs, values, motivations, etc.) and external mechanisms controlling change. It is rather assumed that clients take certain actions, say certain things, or think about them as a result of reactions to what is happening around them. At the same time, these reactions are not determined in advance, but they are taken in specific situations based on various possibilities and limitations resulting from the given circumstances. In turn, these circumstances, which constitute certain conditions, not only affect the individual, but the individual affects them, causing their various modifications. The process of change, or rather one should say changes, is therefore continuous and unavoidable, and stability is in this situation only an illusion (I. K. Berg, New York, 1994, p. 9).
Despite these controversies, however, both in the historical context regarding the development of this approach and the practice associated with its application to the broadly understood helping practices, we find some references to various theories. First of all, the original elements constituting the Solution-Focused Approach model referred to systemic theory. Among other things, because clients function in specific social systems, and the solutions are interactive and dynamic. Both problems and their solutions concern not only the client himself, but also the wider context in which he operates, that is, other people regardless of the type of relationships that connect them. With time, however, the ideas derived from social constructionism, embedded in the postmodern paradigm gained greater importance (F. N. Thomas, New York 2013, p. 33).
Starting from these premises, in Solution-Focused Therapy, we do not look for trigger mechanisms of change, do not analyze the client’s life in terms of specific traumatic situations, sources of deficits or pathology, etc. Instead of searching for inward, it remains on the „surface” of what the client says and what he brings in during the consultations. The key is to use the language of the description instead of the language of explanations (J. Clark, Toruń 2012, pp. 16-17). However, in order for this kind of conversation to serve the change, it should create a new social reality, co-constructed with the client in the language. Conversations and consultations will serve the change only when dialogue between a professional and a client will be conducive to opening new opportunities by creating more useful interpretations for the client. In the change process, therefore, it is important to focus on two essential elements. First of all, it is about the area of competence, resources, or potentials of the client, his possibilities related to the sense of influence on his life. Secondly, it is about extracting an image of the desired solutions, based on client’s needs and goals. An important issue that determines the usefulness of various activities and events in the client’s life and during therapy is the meaning that the clients themselves attribute to these activities and experiences. It is a specific process of signification and reification, that is, on the one hand, giving these experiences useful meanings, and on the other hand, materializing certain mental constructs and individual experience. These meanings appear in the process of conversation, thanks to the language and words used, which then gain their status and meaning.
Prochaska J. O., Norcross J. C., Systems of Psychotherapy. A Transthoretical Analysis, Warsaw 2006.
Szczepkowski J., Social rehabilitation of addicted youth based on potentials. In search of institutional solutions, Toruń 2016.
De Shazer S., Clues: Investigating Solutions in Brief Therapy, New York 1988.
McKergow M., Korman H., Inbetween – Neither Inside nor Outside: The Radical Simplicity of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Journal of Systemic Therapies 2009, Vol. 28 no.2.
Jackson P. Z., McKergow M., The solutions Focus: The SIMPLE Way to Positive Change, London 2002.
Berg I. K., Family-Based Services: A solution-focused approach, New York, 1994.
Thomas F. N., Solution-Focused Supervision. A Resource-Oriented Approach to Developing Clinical Expertise, New York 2013.
Clark J., Another Copernican Revolution, [in:] A. Lewiński, J. Szczepkowski, T. Świtek, Upside down. Solution Focused Paradigms – revolutions and evolutions, Torun 2012.
As long-term practitioners, we try to share our experience with a wider audience by writing our own studies, articles and books on issues related to Solution-Focused Therapy.
Szczepkowski Jacek, Resocialization of addicted youth based on potentials. In search of institutional solutions, Toruń 2016.
Social rehabilitation of dependent youth based on potentials describes a Social rehabilitation program, the assumptions of which are based on Solution Focused Approach, implemented in the conditions of the 24-hour Youth Addiction Treatment in Toruń. The use of this model in youth work means a specific way of thinking both about change and human nature, as well as about the essence of all aid activities; giving up the universally binding medical paradigm and adopting a habitual understanding of the nature of the addiction.
As part of Social rehabilitation focused on solutions, there is no search for trigger mechanisms for change, sources of deficits or pathology, etc. The key is to co-create a new social reality with the client through language. Conversations and experiences will only change if they are conducive to opening new opportunities by creating a more useful interpretation of his reality that is useful to the client. The effect of the rehabilitation interactions is thus dependent not so much on our intentions but on the results of the reification process, signification and extrapolation. Therefore, it is about creating conditions in the institution that give an opportunity for the individual to better understand himself as part of his social relationship.
In the course of completed research, a number of key elements were identified and described from the processual and temporal perspective: estimation and strengthening of potentials, principles and discipline, cooperation with parents and the structure of the institution’s program, which constitute an alternative program for youth rehabilitation.
Lewiński Artur, Szczepkowski Jacek, Świtek Tomasz (ed.), Upside down: Solution Focused Paradigms – Revolutions and Evolutions, Educational Publisher AKAPIT, Toruń 2012
The Solution Focused ideas, models and techniques. They are truly open source products. Many in the SF community have the same side of the coin. – Anybody can claim working with a solution. Focused stance or present. Solution. Focused model. All trainers and writers have in fact their own definitions. Gale Miller once said that Solution Focus is a rumor. Nobody seems to know what it is. (…) Developed inductively, rather than deductively, the Solution Focused Practice is a highly disciplined, pragmatic approach rather than theoretical one. The developers observed many times over the course of life, and are aware of the problems and client’s solutions. (part of a description of the model taken from the European Brief Therapy Association website: www.ebta.eu)
Szczepkowski Jacek, Social Work – Solution-Focused Approach, AKAPIT Educational Publisher, Torun 2010.
From publishing reviews:
I strongly support the publication of the work of Dr. Jacek Szczepkowski due to the innovative attempt to broaden, and especially deepen existing methods and ways of social work with the client for a specific instrument of methodical interactions based on the humanistic concept of seeking and mobilizing social forces. The discussed concept – how rarely – can be successfully used in various social welfare institutions, due to the fact that it has already been verified and largely verified. (…) Regardless of whether and to what extent the concept of the Solution Focused Approach will be formally used, (…) a book entitled „Social Work – Solution-Oriented Approach” should always be an obligatory reading both in this type of education as part of the implementation of various subjects, as well as in self-education, self-improvement or permanent education in relation to both professional and non-professional assistants.
The reviewed work, largely devoted to the concept of a Concentrated Approach on Solutions in the practice of social work, in its entirety is an extremely compact, orderly and valuable compendium of knowledge, which should be available to a social worker, educator, and social service employee. It should be assumed that every social worker, pedagogue, social service employee, students of such fields as: pedagogy, sociology, psychology, and especially social work will probably be interested, or at least should become interested in the concept presented by the author of the book. The publication definitely enriches existing studies on the theory and practice of social work. The solutions proposed by the author meet the direction of departure in the practice of social work from the distribution of services for the inclusion in the largest possible range of people and families benefiting from help to cooperate in solving their difficult life situation.
(Dr. Marek Walancik)
Szczepkowski Jacek, Therapy of adolescents with a drug problem. A solution-focused approach, AKAPIT Educational Publisher, Torun 2007.
From publishing reviews:
The book was born out of the author’s search for new solutions for working with young people. You can find here many inspirations for therapy not only with addicts, but also with those who can not cope with various problems, eg difficult students, clients of social workers, protégés of probation officers. The presented concept is based on a humanistic and optimistic assumption that there is good in a human being that can become a source of change for the better. You can see that Jacek Szczepkowski knows the therapeutic practice well and can imply new ideas in working with young people.
(Dr. Tomasz Biernat)