A Brief Introduction to the Progress-Focused Approach

Coert Visser (2020) 

This book introduces the progress-focused approach. This approach is a set of principles and techniques which help individuals and teams make achieved and desired meaningful progress visible and to get ideas about next steps forward. The progress-focused approach, originally inspired by some practical techniques from solution-focused brief therapy, now heavily relies on findings from scientific psychology. It is used by many coaches, trainers, managers, teachers and employees. 

The purpose of the book is to bridge two gaps: the gap between psychological theory and practice and the gap between different psychological theories. The motivation to bridge the gap between theory and practice stems from the conviction that scientific psychological theory can be useful in practically everything people do. The book aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice by describing theory in accessible ways. 

The second type of gap the book tries to bridge is the one between different robust psychological theories. Many scholars produce (mini)theories which they then keep building on. What they seem less inclined to do is to build bridges between their own theories and those generated by others. We attempt to bridge some of those gaps. 

The book alternates between practical and theoretical chapters. Practical chapters introduce topics like the circle technique, the 7 steps approach for coaches, progress-focused directing and the 4PR model. Theoretical chapters include topics such as the progress principle, the growth mindset, self-determination theory, deliberate practice, deep work, and the learning and performance zone. 

The practical nature of the book is highlighted by the use of case examples, practical exercises, reflection exercises, and lists of bullet points summarizing theoretical parts. 

Coert Visser (1963), psychologist, studied at the University of Groningen and at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is co-founder of the progress-focused approach together with Gwenda Schlundt Bodien. They have been working together for over 20 years, most recently under the name Center for Progress-focused Work (www.cpw.nu). CPW provides training to hundreds of coaches, managers, trainers and teachers per year.