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Subscriber: null; date: 18 October 2018

Berg, Insoo Kim

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Insoo Kim Berg, MSW (1934–2007), along with her husband, Steve de Shazer, was a primary developer of solution-focused brief therapy. She was a prolific author as well as a gifted clinician who traveled around the world inspiring and training professionals in this unique model.

Keywords: solution-focused brief therapy, Steve de Shazer, therapy

Insoo Kim Berg is best known for her respectful, gentle way of working with the most challenging clients in a manner that helped them discover their own answers for lasting change. de Shazer once described her as the most gifted clinician he had ever met, and he went on to say that he spent his entire life trying to understand and describe what it was that she did during client sessions. Berg was born and raised in Korea, and she studied at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul before moving to the United States in 1957. Her family originally sent her to the University of Wisconsin to become a pharmacist, yet Berg soon discovered a love for people, changed her focus to social work, and earned her MSSW degree. She later studied at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, where she met Steve de Shazer, John Weakland, Jay Haley, and other key figures in the field of family therapy. She later returned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and cofounded the Brief Family Therapy Center with de Shazer. She was known as a very hard worker, often the first to arrive and the last to leave the therapy center. In addition to her clinical work, she enjoyed long walks, gardening, well-prepared meals, and conversation with close friends. She would frequently get up early to spend several hours writing or working on her latest project prior to beginning her day working with clients. She was a master yoga practitioner, and it was common to find her in the early morning yoga classes held at the yearly Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Association conference. She traveled extensively and trained professionals throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and South America. She served as a consultant and trainer for a wide array of community-based agencies, including mental health centers, substance misuse treatment centers, child welfare departments, school systems, home-based family services programs, domestic violence shelters, and correctional departments. She was a founder of the North American Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Association and was a clinical member and an approved supervisor for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. In addition, she was active in the European Brief Therapy Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Wisconsin Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

In addition to countless chapters and articles, she authored or coauthored many books, including Working with the Problem Drinker: A Solution-Focused Approach (1992), Family Based Services: A Solution-Focused Approach (1994), The Miracle Method: A Radically New Approach to Problem Drinking (1995), Solutions Step by Step: A Substance Abuse Treatment Manual (1998), Building Solutions in Child Protection Services (2000), Tales of Solutions: A Collection of Hope-Inspiring Stories (2001), Children’s Solution Work (2003), Classroom Solutions: WOWW Approach (2004), Brief Coaching for Lasting Solutions (2005), More than Miracles: The State of the Art of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (2007), and Interviewing for Solutions (2008). Her writings have been translated into many languages.