February 1, 2012

5 Suggestions for becoming a skilled solution-focused professional

I have written a guest post for www.appreciatingsystems.com:

5 Suggestions for becoming a skilled solution-focused professional

The solution-focused approach, which was invented in psychotherapy in the 1980s, is now being discovered by many people in all kinds of professions such as coaches, social workers, managers, teachers, trainers, consultants, and project managers. Many people know the solution-focused approach from techniques such as scaling questions, the miracle question, past success questions, and coping questions. By using these and other types of solution-focused questions, the approach helps them to get a clearer picture of their desired situation and of what has already worked before. Many professionals who have started to apply solution-focused principles and techniques are pleased both by the response they get from their clients, employees, or students and by how fast it tends to lead to good results.

Professionals who have just begun to work solution-focused also notice that mastering it is not quite as easy as it might appear. They sometimes ask me for suggestions of how they might approach their learning process. Here are five suggestions based on my experience of what usually works well:
  1. Practice a lot: The basic assumptions and principles of the solution-focused approach can probably be understood within the span of a day, or so. But to master the skills may take many years. If you want to achieve excellence as a solution-focused coach your best chance of achieving it is to approach it as you would approach becoming an excellent musician. Set stretching learning goals focused on improving areas of performance which you are not satisfied about, practice a lot, get feedback and guidance, observe, discuss and learn from examples, keep practicing, reading, writing and immersing yourself in the subject matter. The more technically proficient you’ll become, the more this will free up your attention in conversations with clients to listen carefully to what they are saying and to respond adequately. 

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