About five years ago I learned about solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solution_focused_brief_therapy), which focuses on “preferred futures” instead of “problem talk,” and since then I have been applying it to my work and life.

While restorative justice gives us the opportunity to face wrongdoing and social injustice by imaging what we need to heal or to make things right, SFBT provides specific language skills that help us do this kind of thinking, and ultimately create the life we want.

One amazing tool that the solution-focused approach provides is the Miracle Question.  Steve deShazer, so-founder of SFBT, with his wife and master therapist Insoo Kim Berg, tells the story of how they developed the Miracle Question.  It was when Insoo met with a client who said, “it would take a miracle for her problem to be gone” (A Brief Glimpse into Brief Therapy, deShazer, date unknown).

The power of the Miracle Question is not only getting people to imagine and think about what they want, but it also helps people imagine what their behavior would be like if they had the situation that they want.  Behaving contentedly and happily can create being content and happy.

SFBT offers tools for this sort of living, which many people do without ever labeling solution-focused.  An example of an addiciton treatment program that applies a solution-focused approach without using the term is San Patrignano in Rimini, Italy.  And a very nice story describing how a man applies a solution-approach naturally is told in “A Family That Takes ‘No’ For an Answer” New York Times, Modern Love, March 15, 2009.  It is about a man whose “pretending” his wife doesn’t really want a divorce, works to save their marriage.

When we imagine what we want and we act like we have it, we can create the future we want.