Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 84 Issue 3 (September 2011), Pages 237-348

A qualitative investigation into the effects of brief training in solution‐focused therapy in a social work team (pages 335-348)

Objectives.  Previous research into the effectiveness of brief training in psychological therapies for non‐therapist health and social services workers has found mixed results regarding transferring learning into practice. Very few published studies have assessed the impact of such training in Solution‐Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), despite such training being popular. This study explored the impact of brief SFBT training for a group of community‐based social workers.

Design.  A qualitative interview‐based design was used, with the researcher adopting an ethnographic stance to obtain a rich, detailed and focused account of events.

Methods.  Six social workers working with adults with intellectual disabilities took part in the study. All had attended a 2‐day workshop in SFBT 9 months previously. The interviews were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis.

Results and Conclusions.  Factors affecting skill transfer included being able to practise, peer and organizational support, and perceived conflicts between SFBT and work role. Whilst specific trained techniques were not consistently adopted, most workers changed the style of their interaction with clients in simple ways which they reported resulted in benefits including improved communication, collaboration, and increased feelings of control and self‐efficacy for clients and workers. The findings suggest that in addition to peer and organizational support, trainees’ perceptions of the fit of the training with their work role may be a key factor in determining transfer. Recommendations are made for developing training for non‐therapists that focuses on helping change the style of their interactions rather than on learning to implement specific psychological therapy techniques.

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