Solution-focused coaches use a specific kind of question that works well when people really have a hard time and can barely find the energy to do something about their problems. This type of questions is called the coping question (Lipchik, 1988). When normal strategies to solve problems don't seem to work anymore you can try this question. An example of a situation in which you can use the coping question is when your client says he or she is now at a zero on the scale (see the scaling question). The basic form of the question is: "How do manage to keep going?" But there are many other ways of phrasing the question. Here are some examples of coping questions:
- What keeps you going under such difficult circumstances?
- How do you manage to deal with such difficult situations each day?
- What helps you to keep going even though things are really hard?
- How can you explain to yourself how you have been able to do so well while the circumstances are so hard?
- It is admirable how you have been able to keep on going under such difficult circumstances.... how did you do that?
- How did you manage to cope before you gave up?
The coping question helps people in difficult situations to find new energy to keep on dealing with their problems. By using the coping question you help people to become aware that they in fact are managing, at least to some extent... This helps them to see that they are still able to do some things well and that their energy has not faded completely. By exploring how they do cope they can become more aware of what it is exactly that keeps them going. What is still so worthwhile for them to get out of bed each morning and to face the day? By becoming more aware of this you will see, nine times out of ten, that the motivation and hope of this person will strengthen almost immediately.
Also read: The usefulness question