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Effects of Solution-Focused Versus Problem-Focused Intake Questions on Pre-treatment Change

This research tested the hypothesis that changing the language of intake procedures could be beneficial. Two randomized studies compared solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) intake procedures with traditional intake procedures. In Study 1, clients completed either a standard written intake form with problem-focused questions or an SFBT Short Intake Form. Clients answering the solution-focused questions described significantly more solutions and significantly fewer problems than the comparison group. Study 2 compared an SFBT intake interview with a DSM-based diagnostic intake interview. Clients in the SFBT intake interview improved significantly on the Outcome Questionnaire (OQ) before their first therapy session, whereas those in the diagnostic intake did not. Both studies demonstrated that intake procedures are not neutral information gathering and that strength-based questions have advantages. Using solution-focused language in intake procedures can change the information that clients provide and even lead to pre-treatment change. Both intake procedures are ready for adoption by practitioners.