January 28, 2009

The knowing-how-to-proceed scale

The scaling question, which was invented by Steve de Shazer, may be the most popular solution-focused technique. This article explains the basic steps you take when asking scaling questions: Scales: practical change tools. It also describes four common uses of scaling questions: 1) success scales, 2) motivation scales, 3) confidence scales, and 4) independence scales. Here is a video example of the use of the scaling question.

Here is an example of the independence scale, an application which can be very useful but which quite a few solution-focused practitioners don't know. The independence scale is often used in situations in which the client has some kind of decision problem, for instance a dilemma or a career choice. The effect of the independence scale is often that it strengthens the independence of individuals or groups in the process of change. Here is an example of how the independence scale may be formulated.
Imagine a scale from 0 to 10 on which 10 stands for 'I know how to proceed independently with this change process and don’t need any outside help anymore', and o stands for "I have no idea how to do this alone and I need outside help (coach/therapist, etc)'. Where are you now on that scale?
As this formulation shows, a good name for this type of scaling question would also be the knowing how to proceed scale. The advantage of this scale is that coaching or therapy don't have to last any longer that necessary. While a problem may not be fully solved, or a goal not be fully accomplished, this does not necessarily mean that the coaching or therapy needs to continue. The client can often proceed on his own.

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