May 12, 2009

Who is the first to notice improvement?

In his book Words Were Originally Magic (1994), Steve de Shazer (SdS) describes an intriguing type of observation suggestion. He describes a case in which he ends his session with his client and her case manager as follows:
"And so, what we suggest you (looking at client) do, between now and next time we meet, is to observe whatever you do and whatever happens that begins to move you up to 4, and gets you up to 4. Ok? But keep this a secret to yourself. Keep it a secret from the case manager. Let’s see if she can figure out when you have moved up that one step. As soon as you (looking at client) reach 4, you call and set up another appointment. And as soon as you (looking and case manager) think she has moved up one step in the scale, you call and set up the appointment. Whichever one’s first."
Then he writes:
"Now it is not a question of whether or not the client will move up one step on the scale, but only a question of who will notice first that the client has done so. That is, the client has to move up on the scale before either of them (client and case manager) can call to set up an appointment and clearly I (SdS) am telling them that I fully expect her to move up one step and I fully expect one or the other to notice the improvement first."
Hat tip to Gwenda Schlundt Bodien who blogged about it here


  1. I just love the simplicity of the sf approach ... seeking to establish a collaborative competition ... Great stuff!

  2. Hi Frank, I like the phrase you use: collaborative competition. Earlier, on this blog, I used a similar phrase to describe the work of Paul McCartney and John Lennon: co-operation through competition. See that post here:

    all the best,

  3. Thx Coert, I'll apply it immediately!
    The name of my company is: CoACh and it means: "Cooperative Approach to Change".


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