June 18, 2008

Mutualizing

The solution-focused approach is often used in situations in which two partners have disagreements (conflict resolution, mediation, marital therapy, etc). One skill is particularly helpful in these kinds of situations in which people may differ in perceptions, interests and goals: mutualizing. I talked to Phil Ziegler, author of Recreating Partnership: A Solution-Oriented, Collaborative Approach to Couples Therapy and he explains the process of mutualizing in essence as reframing issues or goals in a way that all parties can agree to. Phil Ziegler gives an example of a mediation case:
"If one parent says: 'I want the child living with me full time because that's what's best for my daughter. And the other says: ''I want our daughter living with me half time and half time with you because that would be best for her.' Then I would say, 'It's pretty clear to me that both of you want to develop a plan that will be best for your daughter--you disagree at this point about what plan would be best but you share the common goal of making the best plan for her. Can we all agree about that?'"
Instead of emphasizing the different positions and goals the solution-focused practitioner mutualizes the preferred future.

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