Case studies suggest solution focused brief therapy may be effective for people with mild learning disabilities


Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is about brief interventions, focusing on solutions, rather than on the presenting problems. The early development of the therapy was based on the notion that even for people suffering chronic problems, there are periods when the difficulties do not occur or are less intense. It was posited by early pioneers of the therapy that studying these times might identify the positive things that such people do, even if they are not fully aware of them. The therapy is based on bringing these small successes into awareness and developing strategies to repeat successful things, rather then spending time focusing on the existing problem behaviours.

In this small study, the researchers worked with ten clients with a mild learning disability, taking measures before the therapy, directly after and at a follow-up at 6 weeks. The measures used were an assessment of quality of life, an assessment of maladaptive behaviour and goal attainment according to the ten people themselves and according to their carers.

The authors found that solution focused brief therapy treatments contributed to improvements in psychological functioning and decreases in maladaptive behaviour. They also found that attainment of goals were noted by both the people with learning disabilities and their carers. At six week follow-up, the positive changes were still evident. The experience of the treatment was assessed as positive by most of the participants.

The authors point out that this is a very small study and suffers from the lack of controls, but as the majority of cases showed positive results, they suggest that this might indicate that solution focused brief therapy may be effective for people with mild learning disabilities.

Solution-focused brief therapy with people with mild intellectual disabilities: A case series, Roeden, J. et al,. in Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 8: 247–255

Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+
Mark as read
Create a personal elf note about this blog
Profile photo of John Northfield

John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

More posts

Follow me here –