August 24, 2011
Question: how threatening can the solution-focused approach be?
Somewhat more recent, I attended a meeting of many management consultants. Before the actual meeting started I was introduced to a consultant who had just won a prize for a publication he had written. When he heard my name he said: "Oh? I think we shouldn't be glad with you. You are writing about clients being able to solve their own problems, aren't you? You are trying to make us obsolete, right?" I was a bit surprised when he said this but when I reflected a bit on it afterwards, I thought I understood better what he meant.
It is true that solution-focused therapists and coaches assume that clients are competent and autonomous. Instead of diagnosing clients and analyzing problems they normalize what clients say and do. This seems to work and clients seem to like it. It is probably right to say that solution-focused interventions are, in the end, not actually superior to other approaches' interventions. It is probably more realistic to say that they are equivalent but briefer. In other words, they yield the same results faster.
In addition to that, solution-focused interventions leave the client in the position in the driver's seat. Solution-focused professionals deliberately focus on enhancing the client's sense of autonomy and competence. The sooner the client feels independent of the professional the better. My feeling is - correct me if I am wrong- that many leading solution-focused professionals have to some extent shifted from a coach or therapist role to the role of a trainer. This shift perhaps accentuates the assumption that clients are normal and autonomous individuals who are competent and just seek to further develop their competence.
Question: do you agree that solution-focused working can be threatening to 'other' professionals?