Solution-Focused Conversations in Schools:
An Integration of Education and Mental Health

Introduction to Clinical Practice Course SFBT

Solution-Focused Conversations in Schools: An Integration of Education and Mental Health

Text and lecture-based course with exam

19 CE Credit/Clock Hours


Approximately 74 million children attend schools in the United States.  75%-80% of youth receive mental health services in schools. A mental health condition adversely impairs one in five children, yet less than half of these children will receive treatment. 

Solution-Focused Conversations in Schools: An Integration of Education and Mental Health seeks to revolutionize practical and transdisciplinary implementation of solution-focused brief trauma-informed practices within diverse and fast-paced educational settings.  At its core, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a conversation and can be integrated into everyday conversations when applied with positive intention and training. This approach is not limited to professional counselors; anyone who can communicate can practice this approach effectively. SFBT, an evidence-based approach, aligns ideally within the realm of school mental health and educational settings.  Click here to read more about Solution-Focused School Mental Health.

The course structure includes an online self-paced, text, and lecture-based course with exams. It consists of twelve chapters of written materials, 10 video lectures, 34 demonstration videos, multiple case examples, individual and group practice exercises, and solution-focused games and activities. These resources illustrate the practical application of solution-focused techniques across multiple tiers of support commonly employed within educational settings.  The course further covers solution-focused educational plans, behavioral plans, solution-focused conversations in team meetings, various solution-focused games, and exercises applicable in diverse educational contexts, including school curricula, classrooms, group settings, families, individuals, and with administrative and educational staff. 

Upon completing this course, participants will successfully apply solution-focused conversational skills in educational settings, thereby making a positive impact on children and all the dedicated people involved in educating our collective youth.

Last Updated: November  2023

Target Audience: Social workers, psychologists, mental health counselors, educators, and medical professionals appropriate for all levels of knowledge.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe how solution-focused conversations can help promote social-emotional learning and transdisciplinary engagement with educators, mental health clinicians, and families in educational settings.
  2. Identify the core solution-focused skills, basic tenets, and how solution-focused conversations are trauma-informed.
  3. Explain the key components and the differences between solution-focused and problem-focused conversations, including the paradigm shift, order shift, and language shift.
  4. Discuss solution-focused “langauging,” the importance of helping people name their “root verbs,” and how to cultivate positive vocabulary and appreciative and hopeful language. 
  5. Apply solution-focused amygdala whispering in educational contexts to assist in counterbalancing intense emotions. 
  6. Demonstrate direct compliments, indirect compliments, coping questions, and amplification of positive differences through solution-focused questioning. 
  7. Apply solution-focused VIP mapping, including the categories of VIPS,  to cultivate connections and relationships in an educational setting. 
  8. Demonstrate solution-focused goal negotiation, including the best hope question, imagining a satisfying week, and the miracle question within educational settings.
  9. Compare how solution-focused scaling questions that activate agency differ from problem-focused ones that assess acuity. 
  10. Demonstrate solution-focused questions that “work the scale” to further enhance agency and a plan within educational settings.
  11. Describe how the solution-focused safety assessment differs from problem-focused risk assessment within educational settings.
  12. Apply solution-focused questions within follow-up conversations, including when things are better, the same, or worse within the educational setting.
  13. Compare a solution-focused team meeting within an educational setting to a traditional problem-focused one.
  14. Write a solution-focused, individualized educational and behavioral plan that can be utilized in an educational setting. 
  15. Discuss the most recent solution-focused research in schools, including with children and families. 
  16. Describe how solution-focused conversations can be applied to anxiety, ADHD, substance use, and self-care. 
  17. List ten solution-focused games and practice exercises that can be applied within an educational setting. 
  18. Critique video case demonstrations that utilize solution-focused interventions to enhance school engagement with educators, youth, and families.

Course Assessment

Participants will be assessed through multiple-choice tests that evaluate their understanding and ability to apply the course material. Participants may retake the exam until they pass it successfully.

Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be given instructions on downloading and printing their Certificates of Completion.

Continuing Education

19 Credit/Clock Hours are available for this course 

Please see our Continuing Education Information page for CE credits and clock hours and our accreditations and approvals for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and marriage & family therapists. The final authority for approving any continuing education activity rests with the state or province where the participant is licensed. Please contact your individual licensing boards to review continuing education requirements for licensure renewal. To receive continuing education hours, the participant must complete the entire course, engage in all activities, and complete the course evaluation.

Policy Information

Once enrolled, participants can commence the course at any time. For a comprehensive list of our policies, please visit our policy page. complete list of policies can be viewed here.

Instructor and Consultants

Anne Bodmer Lutz, B.S.N., M.D. is the Director of the Institute for Solution Focused Therapy. She was trained by the founders of Solution-Focused Brief therapy, Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer. She is a board-certified adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester MA, and was a nurse before becoming a physician. Anne has a private practice in West Boylston Massachusetts where she integrates solution-focused practices in her treatment of children and families. She provides direct clinical supervision, teaching, and training to medical students and psychiatric residents, workshops for community-based treatment organizations, agency based training and coaching in Solution-Focused Therapy. She has worked for many years integrating solution-focused practices in community mental health, residential treatment and with adolescents and families coping with substance use and co-occurring disorders.

Anne is the author of Learning Solution-Focused Therapy: An Illustrated Guide (2014, American Psychiatric Press) which includes over 30 videos and many case examples focusing on “how to” implement this approach, along with numerous articles, and chapters in books. She received a Massachusetts Course of Distinction award in 2016 for the online and blended learning course entitled “Solution-Focused Fundamentals and Practice.”

Anne Bodmer Lutz, MD indicates that she has no conflicts of interest associated with this course.

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