Five Solution-Focused Therapy Tips
Week Five: Imagine a scale in which 10 represents you having complete confidence in your ability to use the Solution-focused approach effectively with your clients in any context you wish and 0 represents the point in time before you ever heard about the SF approach. Where are you now? What is your "good enough" number? What are you already doing that is helpful? What will be the next step in maintaining or increasing your Solution-focused skill confidence level?
Week Four: When a client says "I don't know, sometimes it is literally true but more often it is a signal that he or
she needs time to formulate an answer. Even when time is short, make it a point to take at least one deep, comfortably relaxing breath (2 is even better) after asking any SF question. This communicates patience and a sense of psychological "space" that can be very grounding for both the client and the social worker or counselor. Relaxation and positive expectation are especially "contagious" when conveyed non-verbally!
Week Three: Remember that the language requirements for solution development are very different than the language needed for problem description. While problem descriptions are oftentimes necessary in order to establish understanding and communicate support and empathy, oftentimes more is needed to achieve lasting positive change. For that, a well developed solution description and a behavioral scale are invaluable assets!
Week Two: When used skillfully and collaboratively with the client, a Solution-Focused Scale becomes far more than lines and numbers; it is a concrete representation of the client's best hopes for a more satisfying (or at least less painful and troublesome) future. When asking questions about SF exceptions and using SF scaling questions, ask for as many details as possible. Answering SF questions about the details of exceptions and potential solutions, allows the client to mentally "rehearse" new ways of thinking and behaving by creating a sort of descriptive "virtual reality" that can actually activate new, potentially more adaptive neurological patterns.
Week One: Don't forget to compliment your clients! It is a good practice to begin and end each SF session with a simple, legitimate compliment. This can be a repetition of a compliment given at the beginning of the session or a new one based on what occurred in the session.