April 7, 2008

What do you do when your client DOES want you to analyze their problems?

Many coaches who learn to work solution-focused ask themselves how to respond when a client explicitly asks them to follow an approach that conflicts with the solution-focused approach. For instance, someone recently asked me: "What should I do as a coach when my client tells me he wants to analyze the deeper causes of his current problems?" This is an interesting and logical question because it seems like to solution-focused principles seem to conflict a bit here. On the one hand, solution-focused coaching focuses on analyzing what worked well instead of analyzing problem causes. Following this principle you should say 'no' to this client's request. On the other hand, however, the solution-focused coaches work as much as possible with the perception and preference of the client. Following this principle, perhaps you should go along with the request of this client. What is wisdom?

Whoever wants to become a skillful solution-focused coach is advised to have copy of the book Becoming Solution-Focused In Brief Therapy on his or her shelf, maybe the best book ever written about the solution-focused approach. True, this book is about therapy but it is also very useful for coaches. What do the authors of this book, John Walter en Jane Peller, say about this dilemma?

On page 48 they write: "Of course, our agenda is to help our clients reach what they want -their goal or their solution. If it becomes apparent to us that the client wants something we do not do or cannot provide, then we say so and sometimes end the therapy. If someone asks for intensive, psychoanalytic psychotherapy or states that he of she just wants someone to talk to, we might state that we do not do that and see if we can agree on some other acceptable goal. .... We are very upfront and direct about what we are about, which is helping people construct solutions in as short a time as possible."

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