Solution Focused Approach Coaching:
The question people often ask me is: ” What does it mean.. Solution Focused, and does it mean you don’t acknowledge the problems people feel they are having ?” Perhaps it is helpful if I share some of my understanding of this.
When I listen to clients, when they tell me of their problem, I indeed hear their problems. These problems are often having a profound effect in their lives. I listen emphatically and try to find out how they are coping in sometimes, in my opinion,very difficult situations. Here we start to bring the focus on their strengths. If people feel they are not coping in this particular situation, I ask them if they have been in situations before in their lives, when things where also very difficult, and how did they cope then? I ask them what they were doing different to what they are doing now. I also ask if they feel they could implement some of the skills they had then into this current situation. What happens then often quite quickly, is that the client becomes aware of the skills and strengths they already have. Also it can help to remind them of the support system, such as a good friend or close family member, that helped them through a difficult period in their lives. In this way, we are communicating in a Solution Focused way. We are aware of the problem and are now looking towards solutions.
In a standard version of a Solution Focused intervention, we often follow the procedure of asking a range of certain questions. We might have a few sessions with a client in this way over a certain period of time. The strength of Solution Focused Interventions is, that anyone with an interest in supporting people can learn this technique. You do not have to be a psychiatrist to be able to apply this technique in the workplace or volunteer sector.
However, not always we have situation when we can apply a full standard session with someone. In this case, like described above, we can then apply solution focused approaches such as finding out about the skills of the client that they already have and how they can implement these again/more, which could help finding a solution.
Another helpful way is to explore when the problem is not happening. Problems do not exist all the time, and we will look at this by finding out what is different then. Also, we can find out what is the client doing different then, and if they can do more of that. We can focus on that too, what needs to change for it to be more like that.
Another way is, to find out what would be different if the problem was not there anymore. There is a certain way of asking the client this question. To find out what they would be doing different, and who would notice. This we would explore in-depth and at length. Then we would look at if there are already moments when this is happening in their lives. Again we would explore this with great interest. I would also ask the question: ” To have this happen more in your life, what would need to happen and how would that be different?” Again, I can ask here if there would be others who would notice and what would they see instead.
In communicating this way, we are focusing on solutions all the time. Often I see the client’s posture change when they tell me about when things would be different or when they were different. Often by sharing this, it already helps them to start working towards a preferred future.
When I would meet a client again the next time, I would ask them to share with me what is better since we spoke last. This is an amazing shift often in how the client was thinking, as often they thought they were going to start talking about the problem instead in the beginning of our follow-up session. We might talk about the problem again, however we will start to focus on the goal or the preferred future that we would have discussed in the initial meeting.
Indeed, there are so many other questions that we can use in the sessions we have with clients, and often apply the standard format of Solution Focused Brief Therapy sessions. I did feel though, by sharing some of the skills of Solution Focused interventions in this blog, it might give you clearer idea of the way we communicate in a Solution Focused Way. This way of communication I find very helpful if people are feeling low in mood or are going through an emotionally challenging time. I must mention here, to always advise people if they feel they cannot cope with their problems, to seek professional help or to contact their GP. I just feel that as waiting lists are often so long to be able to get an appointment with medical professional staff, if available at all, that an application of these techniques could help towards an improvement of mental well-being for many. I hope it does for you.
For bookings and further inquiries please contact:
Claudia van Zuiden, Solution Focused Therapist, Coach and Trainer, CEO and Director Solution Ways
Glassel, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK.
“The solution does not always have to relate to the problem – just by making one subtle change your world can start to change for the better”. ~ Claudia van Zuiden, CEO Solution Ways: Solution Focused Practice for a Meaningful Life.
SOLUTION WAYS – Solution Focused Practice, Coaching and Training
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