August 29, 2011

The silence which I look forward to

Guest post by Mirjam Fortuin, Pluryn

In my job I work a lot with parents of so-called "Multi-Problem" families. These parents have often undergone years of social aid and are therefore used to talk about the problems they have and what goes wrong in their lives. During the first meetings for Family Treatment parents often immediately begin to talk about what's wrong at home. We listen carefully to what they say because, of course, these problems must be taken seriously. These problems are usually the reason they came to us.

August 26, 2011

5 Metaphors of the solution-focused approach

Metaphors are literary figures of speech that use an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea. Metaphors can help to facilitate the understanding of concepts by  relating them to more familiair concepts and images. The solution-focused literature has used several  metaphors, too. Here are five examples:
  1. Leading the client from one step behind (Cantwell and Holmes, 1994; De Jong and Berg, 2008) (more)

August 25, 2011

It is not true that businesses should always grow

There is an interesting little video by Edward Hess, Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business entitled Everything You Know About Growing Your Business Is Wrong. In it he argues that there is no evidence whatsoever for some dominant beliefs about growth in business.

Those unsubstantiated dominant beliefs are:

August 24, 2011

Question: how threatening can the solution-focused approach be?

Several years ago, I was talking to a psychotherapist living in a village who told me how she had been losing clients in her private psychotherapy practice. She said, with a facial expression which looked like she was tasting something disgusting: "There is a new therapist in our village who does brief therapy. Many clients seem to prefer that, nowadays. I think it is a shame that people believe that such brief and superficial approaches are enough to deal with mental problems."

August 19, 2011

The Aim of Minimalism in the Solution-Focused Approach

Guest post by Guy Shennan 

I started learning how to do solution focused brief therapy in earnest in 1995, by attending training courses with the Brief Therapy Practice, known later as BRIEF, the London-based solution focused team. On one of the first courses that I attended, Chris Iveson, one of their founders, told of how they had learned the approach by watching each other work, sitting behind the mirror with Keys and Clues open on their laps. I pictured them hurriedly scouring the pages, looking for a task to give the waiting client. When I then read Steve de Shazer’s seminal books, charting the early development of solution focused brief therapy, I felt a strong blast of cognitive dissonance. They did not seem to be describing the approach I was being taught.

August 18, 2011

Question: What is your favorite question?

Questions can have surprising power. As Marilee Adams said: "A powerful question alters all thinking and behaving that occurs afterwards." Question are essential tools, not only for coaches and therapists but also for scientists, managers, and teachers. The way questions are phrased may influence us in unexpected and liberating ways. In my work and in my life I have discovered certain questions that I have come to find very useful and which have impacted me. Some of these questions have become favorites of mine. Before I mention these, I'd like to ask you. Question: What is your favorite question? (I'll post some examples which you sent below):

August 17, 2011

Testing the Association between Solution-Focused Coaching and Client Perceived Coaching Outcomes

Coert Visser

This paper describes a survey study into the association between solution-focused behaviors of coaches and clients perceived coaching outcomes. A web-based survey was administered with 200 clients of coaches. The survey consisted of a list of 28 coach behaviors, fourteen of which were solution-focused behaviors and fourteen were behaviors solution-focused coaches would avoid. Clients also were asked to describe on several dimension how effective the coaching had been. Solution-focused coach behaviors were strongly positively associated with positive coaching outcomes. Non-solution-focused coach behaviors were modestly negatively associated with positive coaching behaviors. A multiple regression analysis was done which gave some insight into which specific coach behaviours were predictive of coaching success. The paper closes with some reflections on the implications of this study and on follow-up research.

This article is currently under review. 
Hope to publish it on this blog soon.

August 15, 2011

The primacy of progress

On this blog, I have often written about the importance of progress. I view progress as crucial for finding meaning and gratification in life although I admit there may be some less attractive sides to progress). Also, I have written about the motivational impact of progress (see for instance this post and this post). Is there evidence of the motivational impact of progress? Now, there is. Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer have written the book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work in which they report on a large scale study into worker performance and motivation.

August 13, 2011

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Outcome Research

In Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. A Handbook of Evidence-Based Practice is a chapter by Gingerich, Kim, Stams, and Macdonald entitled "Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Outcome Research". The chapter chronologically describes the history of outcome research into solution-focused therapy by summarizing four review studies that have been done in the last two decades:
  1. Compilation of eight reports (Macdonald, 1994). All these early naturalistic follow up studies from different countries, done under the umbrella of EBTA, consistently showed approximately 70% of clients reporting that their goals had been met or that they had improved significantly. (Updated EBTA database here)

August 2, 2011

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

James Pennebaker's new book is The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us.

Description: We spend our lives communicating. In the last fifty years, we've zoomed through radically different forms of communication, from typewriters to tablet computers, text messages to tweets. We generate more and more words with each passing day. Hiding in that deluge of language are amazing insights into who we are, how we think, and what we feel. In The Secret Life of Pronouns, social psychologist and language expert James W. Pennebaker uses his groundbreaking research in computational linguistics-in essence, counting the frequency of words we use-to show that our language carries secrets about our feelings, our self-concept, and our social intelligence. Our most forgettable words, such as pronouns and prepositions, can be the most revealing: their patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints. Using innovative analytic techniques, Pennebaker X-rays everything from Craigslist advertisements to the Federalist Papers-or your own writing, in quizzes you can take yourself-to yield unexpected insights. Who would have predicted that the high school student who uses too many verbs in her college admissions essay is likely to make lower grades in college? Or that a world leader's use of pronouns could reliably presage whether he led his country into war? You'll learn why it's bad when politicians use "we" instead of "I," what Lady Gaga and William Butler Yeats have in common, and how Ebenezer Scrooge's syntax hints at his self-deception and repressed emotion. Barack Obama, Sylvia Plath, and King Lear are among the figures who make cameo appearances in this sprightly, surprising tour of what our words are saying-whether we mean them to or not.

Here are 5 brief videos with James Pennebaker:

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