PSYCHOTHERAPY and counseling for individuals  and Couples – Corvallis OR

Seth Bernstein, Ph.D.



Title: Solution-Focused Skills For Quickly Engaging and Activating Challenging Clients (6 CEU's)

Clinicians will learn solution-focused skills and strategies to:

  • Quickly engage and activate your most challenging clients
  • Make your current approaches to clinical treatment more effective
  • Expand your creativity with the therapeutic process
  • Have the satisfaction of seeing more of your clients successfully achieve their treatment goals

Workshop Description

Client engagement and activation can sometimes be the hardest part of therapy. Just because clients walk into your office and say, “I need help,” does not necessarily mean that they are ready for or know how to make use of the assistance you have to offer.

The approaches you learn in this training will complement your core theoretical orientation(s), e.g., CBT, psychodynamic, family systems, etc. It is not a replacement. With Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) you gain the ability to assist your clients to more quickly own their treatment and become active participants in the therapeutic process.  This leads to improved clinical outcomes which make your work more satisfying. The challenge for therapists learning SFT is accepting the radical idea that therapy has been successful when the client has gotten to “good enough.” With SFT, we generally do not get to see our clients reach the promised land of full goal completion. What we see is many more of our clients leaving therapy with the confidence that they have the ability to continue to make progress towards a successful and meaningful life. What we see during therapy, many more of our clients are doing the between-session work that is so critical to success.

The teaching model for the training is didactic presentation followed by case examples, video demonstrations, discussion, and practice. The videos include scenes from movies such as Good Will Hunting and The Soloist. In addition, there are video demonstrations of Dr. Bernstein doing therapy with both adult and child clients. Training can be boring because it often is not engaging. This training does more than teach SFT. It provides an experience of SFT. It will be anything but boring.

Instructor Credentials

Seth Bernstein, Ph.D. is a pr acticing clinical psychologist with senior management and consulting experience. He
has authored articles throughout his career on the subject of psychotherapy. Most recently he published a book which applies lessons learned in psychotherapy to the workplace. It is titled, “Emotions, Meaning and Management.”

Dr. Bernstein has been making presentations to a wide range of clinical audiences since 1990. For the past two years, he has been leading workshops in the Pacific Northwest on the principles and practice of brief therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Solution-Focused psychotherapy. Here is some verbatim feedback from a recent training:

    “ Loved the video examples. Very helpful.”
    “Very engaging, informative, and funny.”
    “One of the best and most applicable trainings we have had.”
    “The slides on ‘recovery’ were moving; I appreciated the music.”
    “I feel motivated to make changes to my practice.”

    “What was most helpful was the discussion of between-session work; reframing pathology to strengths, and the engagement process.”

Workshop Learning Objectives

  • Understand the beauty and power of conceptualizing psychotherapy as a three stage process of engagement, activation, and recovery
  • Use Prochaska's Stages Of Change model as a compass for navigating the process of change
  • Challenge yourself to consider “good enough” as the ideal criteria for treatment termination
  • Learn specific techniques for helping your clients gain a sense of agency
  • Develop skills for conducting assessments and treatment planning that clients experience as therapy, not paperwork
  • Know how to use between session assignments to help your clients learn new behaviors. The bulk of successful therapy does NOT happen in your office
  • Develop therapeutic processes and skills for winding down and terminating treatment episodes in a way that builds client self-confidence
  • Translate the theory of “client-centered treatment” into concrete intervention strategies
  • Use scaling and the concept of “positive differences” to assist clients in recognizing their competencies and therapeutic progress
  • Create a plan for translating the knowledge and skills learned during the workshop into your everyday clinical practice
  • Enjoy feeling more creative as a therapist and seeing your clients make meaningful changes in their lives more quickly

Workshop Outline

The Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) theory of change

  • The research which supports it
  • The SFT definition of a successful outcome
  • Core concepts which make SFT effective

The Therapy Roadmap

  • The client’s vs. the therapist’s experience of engagement, activation and recovery
  • How to use the roadmap as a process navigation tool
  • How the roadmap overlaps with Prochaska’s Stages of Change

SFT Engagement Skills

  • Introductions
  • The Yes Set
  • VIPs and relationship “deposits”
  • Evidence-based compliments
  • Calling out coping skills

SFT Activation Skills

  • Tapping into client values
  • Emphasizing and learning from client strengths and competencies
  • Identifying and reifying the client’s “preferred future” to drive change
  • Variants of the “miracle question”
  • SF style of goal setting
  • Positive difference

SFT Recovery Skills

  • Incremental learning
  • Between session work
  • Expanding personal resources and VIPs
  • Scaling
  • Resource activation
  • Tracking progress
  • Termination

In Closing

  • The advantages and limitations of SF Therapy
  • Using SFT to complement, not replace other therapeutic models
  • Additional resources