DiscoverCounselor Toolbox PodcastMoving from Supportive to Solution Focused Interventions
Moving from Supportive to Solution Focused Interventions

Moving from Supportive to Solution Focused Interventions

Update: 2020-03-211


Purchase CEUs at:

Sponsored by

Manage your practice securely and efficiently. Two free months of TherapyNotes with coupon code “CEU”


~ Differentiate between supportive and solution-focused interventions

~ Identify the function of each

~ Explore interventions to facilitate transition into problem solving

What’s the Difference

~ Supportive interventions are grounded in empathy and helping the person survive the moment.

~ Plugging a hole in the hull of a ship until you can get to port

~ Solution focused interventions aim to help the person move from surviving the moment to thriving.

~ Repairing the ship and figuring out how to avoid the reef the next time

Supportive Interventions

~ Establish rapport

~ Validate the person’s feelings

~ Can help the person return to baseline/wise mind

~ Examples:

~ Active listening

~ Radical acceptance

~ Distress tolerance

Why People Get Stuck

~ Supportive interventions are like removing boiling rice from a hot stove.

~ When the rice starts to boil, it often boils over

~ The cook removes the rice from the heat and the bubbles go down.

~ The rice still needs to cook (the problem is still there) but the immediate crisis (boiling over) is past

~ The cook returns the rice to the stove to try and get it to finish cooking.

Solution Focused Interventions

~ Help people identify

~ The problem

~ Their hoped-for resolution of the problem

~ Ways they have solved similar problems

~ Exceptions

~ Other possible solutions

~ Require a clear head and the ability to concentrate (a little)

~ Require that the person feels heard and understood

~ Require motivation to make a change

Decisional Balance (Increase Motivation)

Maintain Motivation

~ Use assignments to keep people on task between sessions

~ Have daily check-ins to complete the problem log

~ Use scaffolding to develop a game plan

~ Provide reinforcement for successful completion of tasks

~ Highlight improvements

~ Try to avoid rewarding backsliding

~ Consider all factors that may enhance or impede motivation

~ Emotional

~ Mental

~ Physical (sleep, nutrition, pain, hormones)

~ Social (friends and family)

~ Occupational (school/work)


~ Everything people do serves a purpose and is generally more rewarding than the alternative.

~ Why does Sally seem to shut down or yes-but any suggestions?

~ Why does John insist on taking an excessive load even though he knows it will stress him out?

~ Why does Jane continue to use social media if it upsets her so much?

Cognitive Processing Cont…

~ Can help therapists identify and address

~ Cognitive distortions

~ Emotional reasoning

~ Faulty goal setting and problem solving skills

~ Can help clients

~ Gain a different perspective

~ Identify what parts are within their control

~ Set SMART goals and increase efficacy

Cognitive Processing

~ Tell me the problem (or write it down)

~ What are the known facts for and against your beliefs about the problem?

~ What other factors and people are involved?

~ Are you assuming things about other people or the future?

~ Are you confusing high and low probability events?

~ Which parts can you control? Which part’s can’t you control?

~ What is your hoped for resolution?

~ Is this realistic? Why or why not?

~ What are possible steps to a solution?

Problem Solving

~ Use authenticity to communicate how much you want to help the person find a way to stop hurting.

~ Look for exceptions

~ Identify ways the person or someone else has solved the problem in the past

~ Set small, achievable goals

~ Follow up regularly.

Narrative Therapy

~ Have people write down

~ What is going on (this chapter)

~ How they see the future (the next chapter)

~ Include

~ Who is there?

~ What do they do?

~ How do they feel?

Living in the AND

~ Validate people’s hurts and perspectives.

~ You are devastated and it seems like the pain will never end.

~ Help them identify things that are important to them that are going well

~ Tree

~ Collage

~ Scrapbook

~ Index cards: Who or what it is and why it is important and going well.


~ Supportive interventions are necessary to help people radically accept their feelings and situation and get into their wise mind.

~ Solution-focused interventions will help them address the situation and start moving forward to break the distress cycle.









Sleep Timer


End of Episode

5 Minutes

10 Minutes

15 Minutes

30 Minutes

45 Minutes

60 Minutes

120 Minutes

Moving from Supportive to Solution Focused Interventions

Moving from Supportive to Solution Focused Interventions

Charles Snipes