June 29, 2011

When Solution-Focus Does Not Work …

Guest post by Paolo Terni, PCC, briefcoachingsolutions@gmail.com

I have been coaching this client on and off for many years now. An executive, I met him for the first time when I was fresh off the Solution-Focused training and I was discovering its power in coaching conversations. So I was eager to try Solution-Focus on him, too - I listened eagerly to his problem talk, waiting for an opening. Sure enough, there was one and I asked about it, trying to shift to solution talk. He quickly answered, and then went on to describe the numerous downsides of that one positive exception to the problem. Undeterred, I tried again. And again. It was frustrating. It was a dance that went nowhere - me trying to highlight the positive, he bringing the conversation back to what was not working. How come he did not accept my invitations for solution talk? Even after I listened to him for a long time? Why was he dismissing my remarks about positive occurrences as a way to sugarcoat the reality?

June 28, 2011

Improving science

© 2011, Coert Visser

Science can be defined as the systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world. Science is one of humanity's greatest inventions which has the potential of improving our lives and our societies. The core of the scientific process consists of scientists making observations, reading scientific literature, formulating questions, testing ideas through systematic studies, and sharing their findings. The system of science contains principles and sets of rules which help make science self-correcting and cumulative. Scientists are required to share not only their findings through publication but also provide detailed descriptions of their studies so that replication of their studies by other scientists becomes possible. A process of peer review functions as a filter to guarantee that only research that meets scientific standards is published in journals. Replication studies make it possible to test findings using the same methods but with different subjects and experimenters.

June 27, 2011

Mental contrasting exercise

Gabrielle Oettingen has done much research into the effects of thinking about what you want to achieve. Through her research she found out that an optimal strategy for setting goals is to think positively about how things will be when you will have accomplished your goals while thinking realistically about what it will take to accomplish this. She calls this 'mental contrasting'.  First, you imagine that you will achieve your goal. Then, you focus on obstacles which are in your way.

June 23, 2011

Challenging yourself as a teacher

© 2011, Coert Visser

The need to remain challenged
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi introduced the concept of flow. In flow people are fully involved in an activity which helps performance and support growth and a sense of fulfillment. Flow happens when people have clear goals and when there is good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and one's own perceived skills. When tasks are structurally perceived as too easy people tend to bored or apathetic. When tasks are perceived as too hard they tend to feel stressed and anxious.

Is teaching the same subject year after year bound to become boring?
What does this mean for the situation in which you are a teacher? As a teacher you are likely to be more knowledgeable or skillful than your students. After years of teaching the subject the subject itself may start to feel like too easy and you risk starting to feel apathetic or bored. You may not be able to make the subject itself harder because that would make it too hard and thereby stressful for the students. Is there a solution?

June 21, 2011

Overdiagnosed: too much diagnosis is turning more and more of us into patients

© 2011, Coert Visser

The rationale for the increasing emphasis on diagnosis
In Overdiagnosed, H. Gilbert Welch (photo), with Lisa M. Schwartz, and Steven Woloshin, explains how the medical profession has an increasing tendency to make diagnosis which is not good for us. The rationale for more diagnosis seems good. When we diagnose more we are able to detect abnormalities, like cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc., earlier so that we can treat them earlier and prevent serious health problems. An example of this greater emphasis on diagnosis is the prevalence of disease awareness campaigns which encourage people to undergo medical screenings. Another example of increased tendency to diagnose is when doctors have patients tested for things about which they have no complaints.

June 13, 2011

Developing a Growth Mindset - How individuals and organizations benefit from it

© 2011, Coert Visser

Does success or failure depend on whether you do or don’t happen to have some or other fixed talent? Is it true that you either have talent or you haven’t? How are these questions relevant for organizations? This article is about the importance of the growth mindset, the belief in the mutability of human capabilities by effort and experience. A lot of evidence shows that the belief in the changeability of capabilities is an important condition for that change. This belief turns out to be realistic. Anything that people do can be seen as developable skills. What does this insight imply for how we manage and educate people? How can in we, in our organizations, develop a growth mindset culture?

June 12, 2011

Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health

I am now reading: Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health by H. Gilbert Welch.

Here is a description of the book: After the criteria used to define osteoporosis were altered, seven million American women were turned into patients—literally overnight. The proliferation of fetal monitoring in the 1970s was associated with a 66 percent increase in the number of women told they needed emergency C-sections, but it did not affect how often babies needed intensive care—or the frequency of infant death. The introduction of prostate cancer screening resulted in over a million additional American men being told they have prostate cancer, and while studies disagree on the question of whether a few have been helped—there’s no disagreement that most have been treated for a disease that was never going to bother them. As a society consumed by technological advances and scientific breakthroughs, we have narrowed the definition of normal and increasingly are turning more and more people into patients. Diagnoses of a great many conditions, including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even cancer, have skyrocketed over the last few decades, while the number of deaths from those diseases has been largely unaffected.

June 4, 2011

What's the best name for this intervention (part 2)

Following up on my question of yesterday, here is another similar type of question.

Which of the following names do you think is best for the solution-focused question about how clients would like their situation/future to become?

a) the desired situation question
b) the desired future question
c) the preferred situation question
b) the preferred future question

What would be your choice and why?
Thanks in advance for letting me know!

Here are the reactions, so far:

June 3, 2011

Help wanted - which name is best for this intervention?

Dear blog readers,

May I ask you a question about what might be the best term for a popular solution-focused intervention?
Which of the following three names do you think is best for the solution-focused question about when situations in which things were already better:

a) past success question,
b) earlier success question,
c) previous success question

What would be your choice and why?
Would you let me know? Thanks!

Here are the reactions, so far: from the options I gave the score is now: 

Like juggling the conflict away

The way we are able to focus our attention is an important key to flourishing. Research into neuroplasticity shows that every time we consciously focus our attention, we change structurally for a tiny bit. When we develop habits in the way we focus our attention on certain things long term consequences result. There can also be important immediate consequences of how we focus our attention. For example, psychological research shows that part of the reason may be that people with depression get stuck on bad thoughts because they’re unable to turn their attention away.

Sharing actual and desired success stories

Guest post by Peter Musschoot

A multinational client asked to facilitate an energizing one hour activity. The aim was to kick off the second day of a three day workshop with fifteen HR Managers, HR experts and Learning & Development experts from subsidiaries all over Europe. Some of them had met before; others just met for the first time that day. The client trusted my co-facilitator and me to come up with an activity where learning needn’t necessarily be the main outcome.
We decided to go for an exercise designed by Peter Szabo. I had the opportunity to meet Peter during a module on solution focused coaching, organized by my inspiring friends and SF colleagues Liselotte Baeijaert and Anton Stellamans from Ilfaro. I remembered this powerful exercise as a participant, and was curious what would happen when we would be facilitating it with two trainers in the time span of exactly one hour. Here’s what followed:

June 2, 2011

Are solution-focused coach behaviors associated with positive coaching outcomes?

I have done survey with 200 respondents who have been clients of coaches. The survey asked what coaches did and what the outcomes of the coaching were. Two types of coach behaviors were asked about: a) things solution-focused coaches typically do, b) things they typically avoid. The main purposes of the study are to: 1) to check my main hypothesis that solution-focused coach behaviors are associated with positive coaching outcomes, 2) to explore which specific coach behaviors are associated with positive outcomes. I'll soon start analyzing the data and I hope to publish them soon.

June 1, 2011

The Development and Evaluation of a Self-Instructional Parent Training Manual Based Upon a Solution-Focused Parent Training Model: In Search of a Miracle

by Ebanks, Tasha E., Psy.D., Alliant International University, San Diego, 2011, 170 pages; AAT 3451887

Abstract: Using the principles and techniques of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) as a training model this research study hypothesized that exposure to a Solution Focused Parent Training Model would increase parenting satisfaction and perceived self-efficacy and decreases maladaptive behaviors in children. The treatment for this research study consisted of five chapters from a manuscript written to teach parents how to utilize Solution Focused Parenting to help navigate the daily challenges of parenting. A total sample of 100 participants was included in this study. The quantitative data consisted of data derived from the use of two instruments. A modified Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC) as published by Johnston & Mash (1989). Contrary to expectations, these data showed no significant difference between the treatment group and the control group for the Child Behavior Checklist Items. These data did not support the hypothesis; rather they showed no significant change between pretesting and posttesting in terms of parent's perception of their child's behavior.

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