The Solution Focus Approach – What? Why? and How?

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The Solution Focus Approach Within Community Settings:

The solution focus approach (s.f.a) gives us the opportunity to have affective and effective conversations with people whose lives are troubled in a whole variety of ways. One aspect of the approach, for many experiencing the more troublesome nature of their lives, is that issues stem from current socio-economic and environmental problems; from difficulties with and within  relationships; from the effects of violence (such as, yet not limited to, domestic abuse, gang cultures, child-sex abuse); from addiction issues (drugs and alcohol, food, gambling, pornography and other issues); from mental health issues – and I include stuff like anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem, bullying and being bullied and so on in this last group: all areas in which s.f.a has been shown to be effective, helpful and to have positive outcomes for people who come seeking help.

AND, for many, the approach can also be used as a way of developing other skills, as a coaching tool, for instance, and as a way of helping develop management and other useful, social skills. Skills that organisations, big and small need to help them grow. The kind of skills that will enhance the experience and skills base of people living and working in those communities that are struggling, for whatever reason.

And you, should you seek to develop your skills by utilising your strengths in working with and supporting those selfsame communities, will find that the technique is such a positive, useful and long-lasting skill that change does happen. There are books highlighting precisely what it is about having conversations based on the skills and techniques of s.f.a that essentially prove what I am saying.

Now, it might strike you as odd that a single approach – the solution focus approach, in this instance – might be useful across such a diverse and complex range of issues, which I accept might seem unusual. However, I hope that this page will help you to understand that I am NOT making claims I cannot justify or explain, or prove.

And by the same token, I also have to say that some people do struggle to get the full benefits offered by a solution focus conversation. However, for the majority of people – both those learning the skills set necessary and those with whom the conversations are going to be had, there is a noticeable and liberating change in attitude and mindset. And lives, do, indeed turn around.

Training in the solution focus approach with ‘Open Mind Therapy – Training’ will help you to make this abundantly clear in your own mind. Equally importantly, it will change the lives of those with whom you have conversations, AND I guarantee it will change your life too – for the better!

If it doesn’t, you can have your training fee back, no questions asked.

What is a Solution Focus Approach and What Does it Look Like?

In its simplest form, the solution focus approach, or practice – both are useful descriptors- is an approach that helps those being worked with to focus on the things (small or large) that they would notice happening differently in their lives, whether this was the problem disappearing completely; or the issue beginning to reduce in terms of its impact and the client was / they were, as a consequence, getting on with their lives much more as they would choose things to be going.

In this ‘problem-free’ or ‘problem-reduced’ world, what would they be DOING differently? And, what would this difference bring to their lives and to the lives of their family, friends, neighbours or social cicle? How might they sustain this positive gain / these positive gains? If it’s working, can they do more of whatever it is that’s working? What would they notice happening? Would anyone else notice? Who? How would they know? And so on….

SFA and practice, and conversations, have been used in many ways and the process has shown itself to be an ideal way of working with people in many social situations and with a myriad issues. I personally have supported people in the health sphere, staff and patients; people in social situations, including those with dementia: people (children and young adults, mostly) in the care of social services – adoptees, children in foster care and children in children’s homes: students and teachers in schools, students placed in on-campus settings and in off-campus units. I have trained all grades of staff in schools to develop leadership skills to help manage troubled and troubling children.

The solution focus approach is also helpful in coaching, both at a personal level AND at an organisational level. The better trained the staff, the better the organisation runs, and all who work in it, function.

It doesn’t stop there though. The approach can be used with people from different groups within communities, people from BME groups, the LGBTQ community, people with mental health needs and people from migrant or traveller communities. And the approach works for people in end of life situations.

It is also an approach that can be used in one’s own life situation – with partners, children, parents and friends.

What makes sfa an attractive approach is that it is entirely used without blame, judgement or criticism; we also don’t spend too much time mired in the past, or developing ‘diagnoses’.

I would caution that solution-focus practitioners are not ‘problem-phobic’, however, dwelling on the problem does lead to a peculiar circularity and no matter how some modes of counselling insist on getting to grips, or coming to terms, with the ’cause’ of the issue; a focus on what is not going well, does not mean it will somehow begin going ‘right’. How can it?

So, the future is where change lies and it is to the future that trained solution-focus practitioners look. There is a maxim in the process which can be used to guide and to focus people in training. Thinking about your own life; if what you are doing is working for you (in whatever way you think is good), ‘do more of it’. On the other hand if what you are doing in your life is plainly not working for you, in whatever way you think, ‘stop doing it, and do something else.’ AND, finally, learn to tell the difference, so that you can make change happen!!

Oh, and because we’re NOT medically trained, we cannot, nor would we dream of, prescribing anything. SFA is not about ‘telling’ our clients what to do either; it is about co-creating a more positive and helpful purview based on aspects of what IS already working for our clients. Remember, ‘do more’ of what works and less of, or give up, what doesn’t work.

There will be lots more to say about this over the coming weeks and months; please get in touch with me at any time if you want more information.

Training dates are being sorted for October, November and December 2018. They will be sent to subscribers and announced generally when they are confirmed. Please be aware, I envisage student groups of about 12 students per cohort, this ensures you get maximum practical exercise time in, and have fellows you can network with for your own support.

I am not in a position to organise or arrange voluntary placements for students (internships), sorry.

Initial raining will be over two or three weekends (i.e two day) blocks, with follow-up and extension weekends in early 2019, for refresher purposes.

Training costs will be kept to a minimum, and can be paid in instalments, if that’s helpful.

I will also supervise students from the courses for up to a total of 5 hours over a 6 month period, following satisfactory course completion. This will be using Skype or zoom. My preference is zoom as they have the facility for breakout rooms for students to practice.

Please, if there’s anything not covered here, make contact and I’ll see what I can do.

All face to face courses will be based on the UK / West Midlands. If there is enough call from overseas learners, I’m happy to look into on-line training via zoom or similar.

Come on in, and welcome

best wishes



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