SolutionFocused Brief Therapy for Veterans

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a method of counseling that centers on the patient’s future and relies on solutions to be effective. As its name indicates, it is designed to be accomplished in a shorter time frame than traditional therapies. SFBT has been used on patients suffering from depression, anxiety, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Early research indicated a success rate of 77% with an average of 2.9 sessions (Rothwell 2005 p.402). Industry sponsored research has further indicated its effectiveness that has resulted in "lasting change on average in less than 5 sessions and in up to 83% of referrals" (The Brief Therapy Practice 2003). Still, there is widespread skepticism in the scientific community. Could this brief and effective form of treatment be of benefit to veterans who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan To answer this question, an examination of the function of SFBT and how it might be integrated into the current treatment of veterans is essential.
Soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are faced with numerous mental health issues. Approximately one-third of the veterans returning from these wars that seek medical treatment are diagnosed with a mental disorder (Fact Sheet). A major concern is the high rate of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) acquired from the intense combat conditions. PTSD rates among returning veterans is as high as 15% while another 10% have symptoms of anxiety or depression (Fact Sheet). In addition there are higher than normal rates of chronic fatigue and panic disorder. It would be important to verify if the brief approach would be effective at helping these veterans overcome these major mental health issues.
In addition to the major mental health disorders, returning veterans also face a wide range of other issues that affect their mental health. There may be relationship problems when returning to a family after months of absence. To avoid seeking medical treatment, veterans may self-medicate and develop a substance abuse problem. Wounded veterans face reintegrating into a civilian world with a life long disability. In addition they face the problems of relocation, isolation, and unemployment.
A brief look at these issues and an evaluation of current treatment methods may be able to shed some light on the usefulness of brief therapy. The term Brief Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT) is a broad term that encompasses many forms of the treatment. For the purposes of this paper, SFBT is defined as being brief, less than 16 weeks, and focused on a positive outcome through a sequence of changes in behavior and expectations. It is closely associated with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Family and Marital therapy. Results of previous research using these alternative methods may infer some potential for SFBT.
Brief Solution-Focused Therapy (SFBT) an Overview
SFBT was originally developed as a short-term psychotherapy approach at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee in the late 1970s. Rather than focusing on problems and the basis for emotion, it focuses on the solution. Attention is drawn to goals rather than obstacles and strengths rather than weaknesses. Solution-focused therapists do not make diagnoses, try to promote insight, or analyze the past. Instead they encourage the client to recognize and implement alternatives.
SFBT has been used for the treatment of alcohol and