Insoo Kim Berg

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Insoo Kim Berg
Born(1934-07-25)July 25, 1934
DiedJanuary 10, 2007(2007-01-10) (aged 72)
Milwaukee, United States
Alma materEwha Womans University
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Family Institute of Chicago
Menninger Foundation
Mental Research Institute
Spouse(s)Charles H. Berg
Steve de Shazer

Insoo Kim Berg (25 July 1934 – 10 January 2007) was a Korean-born American psychotherapist who was a pioneer of solution focused brief therapy. She influenced the fields of psychotherapy, consulting, supervision and coaching with concepts such as resource-orientation and brief therapy. In 1978, with her husband Steve de Shazer, she co-founded the Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC) in Milwaukee. She published ten books. Berg died 16 months after de Shazer in September 2005. The BFTC was closed in 2007 and the rights to BFTC’s training materials were transferred to the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association.


Born in 1934, Berg was raised in Korea, and was a pharmacy major at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. The choice to study pharmacy was influenced by her family, who was in the pharmaceutical manufacturing business. In 1957, she came to the United States to continue her pharmacy studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Science, and a social work (MSSW) degree. With her background in pharmacy and chemistry, she worked at the medical school and published on stomach cancer research.[citation needed]

After changing her interest to social work, she developed an interest in psychotherapy. She completed her post-graduate studies at the Family Institute of Chicago, the Menninger Foundation, and the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California, where John Weakland was her mentor. At the MRI she also met her future husband, Steve de Shazer.

At Milwaukee Family Services she started her second career. "Berg consulted to a widely diverse range of institutions and programs including, among others, human service agencies, social service and mental health centers, drug and alcohol abuse treatment facilities, foster homes, homeless shelters, battered women's shelters, correction departments, home based family services programs, primary and secondary schools, various universities, the State of Michigan, and professional business coaching organizations".[1]

She was an "extremely hard working person, and took obvious pleasure in her work and rarely took a day off. In her personal life, she enjoyed a wide range of physical activities including daily walks, stretching exercises, and gardening. As an advanced yoga practitioner, her flexibility and balance surpassed classmates half her age. She liked to read well-written novels and enjoyed classical music but also appreciated the beauty of silence and the tranquility of nature, and knew how to savor the every day magic of satisfying conversation, healthful well-prepared food, and the welcome respite of a good night's sleep after a long journey or a day of hard work".[1]

Her husband died in September 2005 in Vienna, Austria, and Berg 16 months later in Milwaukee. Berg had a daughter, Sarah K. Berg, from her first marriage to Charles H. Berg.

The Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC)[edit]

In 1978, Berg co-founded the BFTC with her husband, Steve de Shazer.

She was a clinical member and approved supervisor for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and an active member in the Wisconsin Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the National Association of Social Workers, and the European Brief Therapy Association.

The BFTC closed its doors in December 2007 and the rights to BFTC’s training materials were given by Berg's sister, C. J. Kim, and her daughter, Sarah Berg, to the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association, a group that de Shazer and Berg helped found in 2002.

Brief therapy[edit]

The conceptual work at the Mental Research Institute built the foundation for solution focused brief therapy and brief family therapy "initiating the systemic view, i.e., demonstrating that a family or any interactional situation can be seen as if it were a system and thus it can be mapped following the 'laws' of general system theory".[2]

"Instead of problem solving, we focus on solution-building. Which sounds like a play on words, but it's a profoundly different paradigm".[3]


  • Berg, Insoo Kim, and Scott Miller. Working with the Problem Drinker: A Solution-focused Approach. New York: Norton, 1992.
  • Berg, Insoo Kim, Family-based Services: A Solution-focused Approach. New York: Norton, 1994.
  • De Shazer, Steve and Insoo Kim Berg, "The Brief Therapy Tradition." In: John H. Weakland, and Wendel A. Ray (eds.) Propagations: Thirty Years of Influence From the Mental Research Institute. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, 1995, pp. 249–252.
  • De Jong, Peter & Insoo Kim Berg. Interviewing for Solutions. Pacific Grove, Calif.: Brooks/Cole, 1997.
  • Berg, Insoo Kim & Susan Kelly. Building Solutions in Child Protective Services. New York: Norton, 2000.
  • Berg, Insoo Kim & Yvonne M. Dolan. Tales of Solutions: A Collection of Hope-inspiring Stories. New York: Norton, 2001.
  • Berg, Insoo Kim & Peter Szabó. Brief Coaching for Lasting Solutions. 2005.
  • Berg, Insoo Kim, More than Miracles: The State of the Art of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. 2007.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Tribute to Insoo Kim Berg". Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association.
  2. ^ De Shazer and Kim Berg, 1995, p. 249.
  3. ^ Yalom, Victor (October 2003). "Interview with Insoo Kim Berg".

External links[edit]