Solution-focused working - SFA

Solution-focused, not problem-focused

A young woman from Mozambique weaves reeds
In its work with its partner organisations and with the people in the projects, terre des hommes schweiz takes a solution-focused approach (SFA). But what is SFA exactly?
The solution-focused approach was developed by the psychotherapists Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg as a model for therapy. They were working in Milwaukee, USA, mainly with people who were struggling with problems like unemployment, violence, drug abuse and illness. They noticed that the problem-focused approach brought about no change in these people, so the two psychotherapists began to concentrate on the strengths of their clients - on what they did well, what worked for them. The model that they developed for therapy purposes has now also been applied to teaching, business and social work.

Psychosocial Support Centre
It is thanks to working with Theres Steiner that terre des hommes schweiz was able to become the first organisation to incorporate SFA into development work. A child psychiatrist and writer, she learnt her trade from de Shazer and Berg. With them, she developed SFA for working with children and young people. Together with the Psychosocial Support Centre at terre des hommes schweiz, she developed, implemented and supported the Youth2Youth training programme.

Experts in their own lives
For terre des hommes schweiz , SFA means that it cannot just arrive in the project countries with pre-prepared patented formulas. It is a question of listening to our partners and to the people themselves, asking questions, building on their strengths and resources and valuing those. These principles are especially successful in the work of our partner organisations helping young people. It means that the advisers and helpers of the young people are not experts who hand out advice and take over responsibility for their lives. The young people are regarded as being the experts on their own lives and are helped to mobilise their own strengths to bring about a change in their situation - with support, but based on their own responsibility.
Young men painting

Psychosocial support

Poverty, violence and illness are psychological stresses which can traumatise people. With psychosocial support, they can work through these situations and gain control of their lives. This applies, for example, to children and young people who have lost their parents to HIV/Aids.