September 30, 2007

Who invented the solution-focused SCALING QUESTIONS?

Scaling questions belong to the simplest, most appealing and accessible tools that have emerged within the practise of the solution-focused approach to change management. Scales are very easy to use and have many applications (read this article if you'd like to learn how). Many people who are not familiar with the solution-focused approach (or hardly) still use scales in their conversations. I have been wondering for quite some who the first person was who deliberately started using scales in conversations. My hunch was it must have been Steve de Shazer. And this indeed seems to be case (although, as with other techniques, other members of the SFBT team will most likely have helped refine it). The article I mentioned yesterday says this about the invention of the scale-technique:
"The “scale question” similarly arose by chance. De Shazer tells of a client who had come to his second session. The therapist asked how he was doing or what was better now. The client had spontaneously replied: “I’ve almost reached 10 already!” The therapist began to play with the idea of using numbers to describe one’s situation. This started the development of the scale question used in solution-focused therapy. During the work process, something happened that was perceived to be useful and it was done again. (de Shazer, 1999)."


  1. Upside-Down Scaling Method

    From Guterman, J.T. (2006). Mastering the Art of Solution-Focused Counseling:

    I ask clients to rate their subjective experiences, such as how they feel, how they deal with their problems, and so forth on a scale from 0 to 10. I adapted the system employed by Molnar and de Shazer (1987) in which they developed a reverse scale. Molnar and de Shazer have described the rationale for the use of this reverse system in the case of depression:

    The rating scale was deliberately upside-down. This was designed to help confuse the up-down metaphor and to have the shift from “depressed” (i.e., 7 or 8 ratings) to “normal” (2 or 1 ratings) be represented by a “downhill slide” rather than an “uphill battle.” (p. 352)


    Molnar A., & de Shazer, S. (1987). Solution-focused therapy: Toward the identification of therapeutic tasks. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 13, 349-358.

  2. thanks Jeffrey, I like the spirit of experimentation to try out all sorts of different things with scaling questions!


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