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    Apr112013

    Solution Focused Approaches by Peter Beven

    Solution Focused Approaches and Career Guidance

    Origins and Key Features

    The approach was developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg and their colleagues at the Brief Family Therapy Centre in Milwaukee.

    Solution-Focused methods derive from a short-term goal-focused approach which aims to help participants change by facilitating them in constructing solutions rather than dwelling on problems. A key idea is that elements of the desired solution often are already present in the individual's life, and become the basis for ongoing change. The ability to articulate what the changes will be like is often more important than understanding what led to the problem or current situation. Solution Focused approaches are based on the idea that, if our aim is to help participants CHANGE and DEVELOP, we ought to use things related to how change happens rather than concentrating on how problems develop.

    Understanding the details and 'cause' of the problem is often not necessary to finding a solution. The important issues are: how does the client want things to be different? - And what will it take to make it happen? The idea is that being able to envision a clear and detailed picture of how things will be when things are better creates hope and expectation and makes solution possible.

    Solution focused approaches focus on the future (and how it will be better when things change) and attempts to establish clear goals.

    Using Solution Focused tactics in a Career Planning Setting

    Some specific examples of strategies that might be used in a professional development planning context:

    Scaling

    Ask a question requiring the participant to think about their current professional role in relation to an “ideal job” for them.

    The question might go something like, “On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being an ideal for you, and 0 being the worst possible job for you, how would you assess the activities in your current job?”

    Then be prepared to ask follow up questions, on the lines of:

    “What would it take for you to rate the job as a __”

    (Pick a number one higher than the current rating)

    Follow up the answers with reflective listening; which should help you learn about what is important to the participant in their job role.

    Try to help the participant to identify goals - try to clarify what would be different if the score was higher; what would they be doing differently; what would other people be doing differently? What goals emerge as a result of this?

    Variations: Think about questions such as

    “What is it about your job that stops it being rated 0?”

    This is useful in ascertaining positives – even in situations where the participant may feel negative overall.

    Scaling with abstract ideas

    Try using the scaling exercise with an apparently abstract idea like “confidence”.

    Firstly pick a work task or activity

    Then, the question might go something like, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very confident, and 1 being not at all confident how confident are you in performing that role?”

    Then be prepared to ask follow up questions, on the lines of:

    “What would you have to be able to do, that you can’t do now for you to rate your confidence in this as a __”

    (Pick a number one higher than the current rating)

    The Miracle Question

    An Example:

    You wake up tomorrow morning, while you were asleep, a miracle has happened and the concerns you have brought have been resolved. What will be different?

    What will you be doing differently?

    What will other people be doing differently?

    What small step would be a sign of moving in the right direction / being on the right track?

    Follow up the answers with reflective listening; which should help you learn about what is important to the participant in their current role.

    Exception Finding

    Think about asking this question in an informal way.

    For example:

    I’ll bet there are times when you expect the problem to occur and it doesn’t. What’s different about those times? What are you doing differently? How do you make that happen?

    “When is it less of a problem? Or - When is the problem just a little different?”

    Making Exceptions Meaningful:

    How did you mange to manage that?

    Did you know you can influence this?

    Was it easy for you or difficult?

    Key Text:

    O’Connell, B. & Palmer, S. (2008) Handbook of Solution Focused Therapy London: Sage Publications

    Additional Texts:

    Besanson, B.J. (2004) The application of solution-focused work in employment counselling. Journal of employment counselling, 41:183-191.

    de Jong, P., & Berg, I. K. (2002). Interviewing for solutions (2nd ed.).Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    George, E., Iveson, C. and Ratner, H. (2004) Problem to Solution: Brief Therapy with Individuals and families (expanded edition). London: BT Press.

    McMahon, M., & Patton, W. (2000) Beyond 2000: Incorporating the constructivist influence into career guidance and counselling. Australian Journal of Career Development, 9(1), 25 -29.

    Miller, J. H. (2004) Extending the use of constructivist approaches in career guidance and counselling: Solution-focused strategies. Australian Journal of Career Development, 13(1), 50-58.

    Useful web sites

    http://www.psychnet-uk.com/psychotherapy/psychotherapy_brief_solution_focused.htm

    http://www.ebta.nu/

    http://www.solution-news.co.uk/

    Peter Beven | Post a Comment | Share Article

    Copyright © 2011, Peter Beven. All rights reserved.