Solution-focussed brief therapy (SFBT) is a prominent psychotherapeutic approach that deals with a positive focus and promises brief interventions. In two experiments, a solution-focussed technique was compared with a problem-focussed intervention. By means of a structured questionnaire, subjects were encouraged to think about a standard (Experiment 1) or a facultative topic (Experiment 2). Subsequently, they generated either one or five exceptions or exemplary problem episodes. Dependent variables were confident in coping with the problem, ease of retrieval, psychic comfort and several phenomenological properties of the autobiographical memory. A solution-oriented intervention increased self-confidence and established a positive mood. Exception times had a more positive tone and were generally more easily retrieved than problem episodes.The study confirms the claims of the SFBT for empowerment and rapid reduction of current suffering. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.