Steve de Shazer

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Steve de Shazer
Born(1940-06-25)June 25, 1940
Milwaukee, United States
DiedSeptember 11, 2005(2005-09-11) (aged 65)
Vienna, Austria
Occupation(s)Psychotherapist; author
Known forCo-founder of Brief Family Therapy Center
SpouseInsoo Kim Berg

Steve de Shazer (June 25, 1940, Milwaukee – September 11, 2005, Vienna) was a psychotherapist, author, and developer and pioneer of solution focused brief therapy. In 1978, he founded the Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife Insoo Kim Berg.

De Shazer was originally trained as a classical musician and worked as a jazz saxophonist. He received a Bachelor in Fine Arts and an MSSW in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He never studied at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, even though some rumours have it he did. De Shazer wrote six books and was translated into 14 languages. He was a lifelong friend of John Weakland , whom he saw as his mentor.[1][2]

De Shazer died in Vienna while traveling on a training and consulting tour in Europe. De Shazer has a nephew, Tony de Shazer whose wife is Marie Laure de Shazer, educator and author, and two great nieces Elodie and Amelie de Shazer.[3]

Solution-focused heritage[edit]

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy[edit]

In 1978, de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg co-founded the Brief Family Therapy Center (BFTC) in Milwaukee.[4] With this move, the couple are recognized as the primary developers of solution-focused brief therapy, which emerged from research they conducted at the BFTC in the 1980s, building upon studies conducted at the Mental Research Institute.[5][6]

BFTC served as a research center to study, develop, and test techniques of psychotherapy to find those that are most efficient and effective with clients. The team at BFTC was very diverse, with practitioners with various backgrounds, educations, and academic disciplines. Besides mental health professionals, the team included educators, sociologists, linguists, and even engineers and philosophers.[7] Steve de Shazer, the director of BFTC, referred to this group as a "therapeutic think tank".[8] Over time people began to request training, so BFTC became a research and training center.[8]

Solution-Focused Applied Psychology (SoFAP)[edit]

Alongside the popular development of the practical application of solution-focused therapy, its theoretic foundation has been the topic of research in an academic context. The academic discipline of Solution-Focused Applied Psychology (SoFAP) uses the methodology offered by design science to investigate the epistemology that underlies the application of the solution-focused approach. In intuitive form, this approach was originally recognized in the practice of Dr. Milton H. Erickson and subsequently concretized by de Shazer and Berg, particularly in de Shazer's book Patterns of Brief Family Therapy: An Ecosystemic Approach.[9]


  1. ^ Norman, H., McKergow, M. and Clarke, J. 1996. "Paradox is a muddle: An Interview with Steve de Shazer". Rapport. 34: 41-49
  2. ^ Lipchik, E. 2002. "Uncovering MRI Roots in Solution-Focused Therapy"
  3. ^ Gingerich, W. (2006). Obituary: Steve de Shazer. Research On Social Work Practice, 16(5), 549-550.
  4. ^ West, John D.; Bubenzer, Donald L.; Smith, Jeffrey M.; Hamm, Terri L. (1997). "Insoo Kim Berg and Solution-Focused Therapy". The Family Journal. 5 (4): 346–354. doi:10.1177/1066480797054014. ISSN 1066-4807. S2CID 143032470.
  5. ^ Shazer, Steve; Berg, Insoo Kim; Lipchik, Eve; Nunnally, Elam; Molnar, Alex; Gingerich, Wallace; Weiner-Davis, Michele (1986). "Brief Therapy: Focused Solution Development". Family Process. 25 (2): 207–221. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1986.00207.x. ISSN 0014-7370. PMID 3732502.
  6. ^ McKergow, M. (2016). "SFBT 2.0: The next generation of Solution Focused Brief Therapy has already arrived". Journal of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. 2 (2): 1–17.
  7. ^ Berg, Insoo Kim. "Student's Corner" (PDF).
  8. ^ a b Norman, Harry; McKergow, Mark; Clarke, Jenny. "Paradox is a muddle - an interview with Steve de Shazer".
  9. ^ de Shazer, Steve (1982). Patterns of Brief Family Therapy: An Ecosystemic Approach. New York: The Guilford Press. ISBN 0-89862-038-4.

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