October 14, 2007

Pre-session change

Imagine someone who has some kind of personal or professional problem. He calls a coach (or a therapist or consultant) to make an appointment. Soon after the phone call they have their first conversation. They start talking about the situation of the client. QUESTION: when does the client start to change? Conventional wisdom says that clients start to change when the coach starts to help them. After all, the client couldn't solve the problem alone... apparently he was stuck and needed help from a professional. Right? Wrong!

Michele Weiner-Davis (photo), Steve De Shazer and Wallace Gingerich (1987) found that two thirds of the clients (in therapy) report positive changes between the moment they call the professional helper and the moment at which the first conversation with the professional starts. Ever since this has become known, solution-focused practitioners have started to use it by asking questions like: "What changes have there been since the moment you called me for an appointment?" Or: "What things have you done that worked well between the moment you called and now?" Or: "Which steps forward have you taken since the moment you called me?" Or: "What's better since you called me?" By asking these kinds of questions, and exploring the answers, the agency of the client and his self-confidence is affirmed and the process of solution-talk can begin quickly.

1 comment:

  1. Hereby my coment as I placed it on the Dutch site:
    To my opinion the proces starts even earlier. If someone has a problem and doesn’t know how to solve it and then takes the decission to ask for help, then the moment that decission is made this person started to work at the solution. So why not pinpoint your questions on that moment?
    The second moment in the proces of getting to a solution is to take action on the decission. So therefor it is important to ask questions about that period between decission and actual action. And after that I would start asking questions as mentioned in the article. If you ignore the proces that took place before the phonecall, you will miss the elementary base of the final solution. Because in that short period you’ll find the prime elements of the solution-focused attitude of this person.

    Erik Kleine


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