Possibility Therapy is similar to Solution Focused Therapy in that it relies on the client’s own responses and emotions to find solutions to the issues concerning them. It was developed by Bill O'Hanlon. However, Possibility Therapy differs from Solution Focused Therapy by offering a flexible and fluid method of acknowledging the value and importance of the client’s own experience. Therapists use validation approaches gathered from Carl Rogers and strategic techniques from the practices of Milton Erickson to help a client discover their own answers, inner resources, abilities, and exceptions to their concerns. This form of therapy is usually brief, and utilizes a collaborative effort which emphasizes respect in order to achieve a positive and effective outcome.
A possibility therapist follows the three key principles of this method in order to develop the course of treatment that will best benefit the client:
1) The therapist acknowledges and gives validity to the client’s circumstances and experiences.
2) The therapist encourages the client to gain new perspective and to examine things from a different viewpoint, including emotions, behaviors, and feelings.
3) The therapist delves into the client’s own inner resources and draws upon them to help the client realize solutions. Together the client and therapist work in a collaborative effort to design the best strategy for achieving lasting results.
The issues to be treated in Possibility Therapy are subjective. In Possibility Therapy, virtually any issue can be addressed. The client will vocalize his or her primary concerns to the therapist and the therapist will dismantle the situation to find the unhealthy associations. Many people seek treatment because they believe that their feelings or behaviors are wrong or not socially acceptable. Therefore, it is up to the therapist to help the client decipher what the normative model is for them in each particular situation that presents itself. Once that common ground is identified, the therapist guides the client in devising multiple possibilities for alternate scenarios derived of the original situation. This allows the client to explore all of the “what ifs” before deciding on which course of action to pursue.