Solution-focused practice in social work

Authored by: Guy Shennan

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415793438
eBook ISBN: 9781315211053
Adobe ISBN:


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Solution-focused practice is a forward-looking approach which helps service users move towards futures they want by building on how they are already doing so. First developed at the Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC) in the US in the 1980s by a group of therapists, many of whom originally trained as social workers (Lee, 2013), its use dates from the late 1980s onwards. A case has been made for a good fit in principle between solution-focused practice and social work (Wheeler, 2003; Walsh, 2010; Greene & Lee, 2011; Corcoran, 2016), which is supported in part by the numerous applications of the approach by social workers, some surveyed in this chapter. There are also, however, aspects of solution-focused practice that present challenges for its use in present-day social work, and it is important we also give these clear-eyed consideration.

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