November 14, 2010

3 Tips for students of the solution-focused approach

Jennifer Gordon, a student of social work in Ontario, Canada, is interested in the solution-focused approach and doing a project on it. She asked me what my advice to student social workers on the solution focused approach would be. Although giving advice is something solution-focused professionals are generally a bit reluctant about, being asked for advice is often nice and it makes one feel appreciated. So, I have given it some thought and here is my advice. If you are, or want to become, a student of the solution-focused approach I have three tips for you.
  1. My first tip is to view your becoming solution-focused as a long term project. While it is quite easy to start off becoming solution-focused, becoming a solution-focused virtuoso might take every bit as long as becoming a virtuoso on a musical instrument. Don't let this discourage you, though. The perspective of having room for professional growth is not so bad; it will give you something challenging and valuable to do. 
  2. My second tip is to keep an open mind when developing your solution-focused skills. Every now and then, you may come across aspects of the approach which may not directly appeal to you. My suggestion is to not dismiss them too soon but instead to give these aspects a chance to prove themselves in practice. You might not understand and appreciate every aspect of the approach right away but you might do so later. 
  3. My third tip is to remain skeptical. Don't be convinced solely on the basis of anecdotes, case examples or what authorities tell you. Keep trying things out, research them well, add your own inventions and build on what works. This way you will eventually make a valuable contribution to the further development of the solution-focused approach. 
Becoming solution-focused may gradually significantly change your outlook on people, change and the helping profession. Fortunately, if you ask me, the change is likely to be a good one.


  1. Great feedback! I'm also very impressed that my student is going beyond the textbook to get additional and valuable input from professionals working in the field. Good stuff Jen! Wendy

  2. Hello Wendy, Thank you. I agree it is wonderful to see students go beyond the textbook. You probably have done something right to make that happen, too.


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