It has often been said that the Solution Focused Approach is easy to learn but hard to do; this was certainly the case for me. Even though the approach made instantaneous sense to me from the moment I was introduced to it, learning to build questions in session was a bit more challenging and required me to spend a lot of time honing the skills needed to be effective when working with clients.
It is my passion for learning SFBT that has motivated me to develop learning materials, such as my books and videos, and ultimately led me start to lecturing. Consequently, I am always thinking of ways to make this approach more applicable so that professionals can be more able to use this approach in their work.
So I’d like to share my 3 tips to applying SFBT:
- Know what room you’re in. Towards the beginning of my Solution Focused journey I was lucky enough to cross paths with Chris Iveson, who is one of the leading Solution Focused teachers in the world. While I attended a training being led by Chris, he introduced an idea that completely revolutionized the way I viewed Solution Focused conversations. He compared the different phases of a conversation to taking a tour of an art gallery, stating that the conversation has stages just like the art gallery has rooms. This is an incredibly important concept to understand because without knowing what stage in the conversation you are in, you may confuse yourself or the client by asking Solution Focused questions that are improperly timed and, thus, may not elicit a productive response.
- Learn this approach as a language, not a technique. A Solution Focused conversation is a co-constructed conversation. This means that, not only does a SFBT practitioner need to have a fluent understanding of the questions of this approach, but they must also fully understand the rules of conversations. This concept can best be understood by viewing this approach as learning a language. If you only gain understanding of the questions, then key things in the conversation may be missed and the questions become difficult for the client to answer. The same processes used to learn any language such as English, Spanish, etc. should be used here. Read books, watch videos, immerse yourself in any way possible with the goal of becoming a fluent Solution Focused talker.
- Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. Most new learners to this approach try to ask the right questions and find it hard to do. In part, this is because you have no way of knowing if your question is a good one or not until it is answered. So instead of being driven to ask the right question, focus on being led by your curiosity. From time to time, you may ask a useless or even stupid question. In those cases, simply ask another question and get back on track. Don’t be scared, follow your curiosity, trust yourself and your clients.
I hope this list helps you in being the best SFBT practitioner you cane be!