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Brief Counseling That Works

Brief Counseling That Works
A Solution-Focused Therapy Approach for School Counselors and Other Mental Health Professionals

Third Edition

A Joint Publication of the American School Counselor Association

Brief Therapy

June 2014 | 248 pages | Corwin
Everything you need for maximum counseling results in less time!

Expert Gerald Sklare is back with a breakthrough approach to effective counseling. Get fresh insights and new applications for solution-focused brief counseling (SFBC). Revised and expanded chapters help you:

 Conduct brief, short-term sessions that lead to rapid, observable change
 Create well-defined client goals
 Enable clients to envision and take steps toward a more hopeful future
 Maximize your time for rapid, observable student progress
 Use the solution-focused principles with reluctant clients 
 Conduct positive, goal-oriented parent conferences 
 Work with individuals in school and community settings

You’ll find a brand new chapter on abbreviated SFBC sessions, updated case studies and research, helpful flow charts and note sheets, and invaluable practice exercises. This “how-to” book gives you everything you need to implement this powerful, innovative counseling approach.

“Simple yet spectacular, my students and I LOVE Brief Counseling that Works! It presents a user-friendly, time-efficient, and very effective approach to counseling school-aged youth (and adults)!”
—Bradley T. Erford, Professor
Past President of the American Counseling Association
Loyola University of Maryland

Overview of the Contents

What’s New in This Edition

Who Can Benefit From This Book

Publisher's Acknowledgments
About the Author
1. Counseling in Schools and Other Settings: Problems and Solutions
Origins of Solution-Focused Brief Counseling

Differences and Similarities


Core “Rules”

Solution-Focused Assumptions

Additional Guiding Concepts


Practice Exercise

2. Setting Goals
Opening the First Meeting: Establishing Rapport and Explaining the Process

Developing a Positive Goal

The Miracle Question

“What Else” Questions

Establishing Well-Developed Goals: An Overview


Practice Exercises

3. Discovering and Constructing Solutions
Discovering Unrecognized Solutions: Instances of Success

Empowering Clients Through Recognition of Their Resources

Scaling a Baseline and Progress

Flagging the Minefield: Identifying and Overcoming Obstacles

Concluding the Initial Session With a Message


Practice Exercise

4. Connecting the Pieces
Components of the First Session

Case Study With Pedro: Session One


Practice Exercises

5. Abbreviated SFBC Session
Explaining the Process

Determine What the Client Wants to Achieve

Use Scaling to Determine Clients’ Views of Their Present Situation

What’s the Highest Number the Client Has Ever Been?

The Message

A Case of an Abbreviated SFBC Session


6. Conducting Subsequent Sessions
Subsequent Sessions: Getting Started

Components of Second and Subsequent Sessions

Assessing Whether Further Counseling is Needed

Writing a Message

Tools for Second and Subsequent Sessions: Flow Chart and Note Sheet

Subsequent Sessions With Pedro


7. Working With Reluctant Clients and Challenging Situations
Helping Involuntary Clients Become Customers for Counseling

SFBC With Students Mandated for Counseling in Lieu of Disciplinary Action

Turning Difficult Situations Into Workable Goals


8. Expanding Applications of Solution-Focused Concepts
10-Second “Counseling”

Solution-Focused Counseling Referral Form

Use of Puppets in SFBC

Use of Sand Trays in SFBC

Solution-Focused Group Counseling

Classroom Counseling Using SFBC Methods

Solution-Focused Parent-Teacher Conferences

Solution-Focused Guided Imagery


Final Thoughts

Appendix A: Counseling Session With Kasey: A Practice Exercise
Appendix B: Solution-Focused Guided Imagery
Appendix C: Practice Detailing a Non-Specific Goal

"Simple yet spectacular, my students and I LOVE Brief Counseling that Works. It presents a user-friendly, time-efficient, and very effective approach to counseling school-aged youth (and adults)!"

Bradley T. Erford, Professor
Loyola University of Maryland

"Every once in a while I come upon a text that is so clear, so explicit, and so practical that I hear students recommending it to other counseling students who are not in the class.  Gerald Sklare’s Brief Counseling That Works:  A Solution-Focused Approach for School Counselors and Administrators is one such book.  I have used the first two editions in my secondary school internship course for several years, and have had universally positive feedback from the interns.  Even though they have all been introduced to SFBC in their theories and group classes and many have applied it in to their work in practicum, they are excited about how it helps them with “Connecting the Pieces”. While I appreciate the ways that the book addresses the application of SFBC to the school setting, I feel that it is a valuable resource for anyone working with children and adolescents regardless of the setting."

Virginia S. Dansby, Professor
Professional Counseling Program, Middle Tennessee State University

"The solution-focused counseling approach is teaching us that strengths and resources are already available and dormant within students, parents, and the school. This book is a highly readable and practical guide for harnessing the power of problem-free talk and exception-seeking to support and empower our students."

Stephanos P. Vassilopoulos, Assistant Professor
Department of Primary Education, University of Patras, Greece

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