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Bulletin of the United Kingdom Association for Solution Focused Practice Volume 3 - Issue 1 • October 2007

Articles in this issue: The Miracle Question Andrew Callcott investigates the use and disuse of SF’s best known strategy ‘Singing the Same Tune’ Anne Proctor explores possibilities and potential for introducing a solution focused approach into a university setting On Unbecoming a Counsellor Carole Waskett talks about the joys of dis-accreditation Family First Service Solutions Together Peter Lewer talks about his mission to make virtually every public servant in Kent solution focused

Also in this issue: Editorial Distribution News Association News Details of what the UKASFP sub-systems have been up to Book Review Solution Gnus All your questions about solution focused working answered Member News Information on what our members are doing and plan to do


Long time, no see! If you were wondering why there hadn’t been a Solution News for a while, this has been mainly about having enough material to publish. So if you ever felt like writing for us but hadn’t got around to it, now is the time! After this issue a guest editor will be taking over from me to produce two research-based ‘special’ issues of Solution News, but we are still on the hunt for articles for our April 2008 issue. We are particularly interested in receiving articles on SF work in mental health inpatient services and with people with substance misuse problems, so if you are able to write something in one of these areas, get in touch! It’s certainly a hectic time in the UK SF community right now, with lots going on around issues such as accreditation and compulsory registration of therapists. Changes and developments in the UKASFP itself are also being discussed, with the membership being asked what sort of association they really want. The Association News section carries the latest on this, and if you have views on what (if any) functions of an interest group, pressure group and / or professional regulator you believe it should be fulfilling, whether you are a member or a potential member, now is the time to make your voice heard! Happy solutioneering, all! Ian C. Smith Editor

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Solution News - Credits: Solution News is freely available at www.solution-news.co.uk Editor: Ian C Smith Associate Editor: Svea Van Der Hoorn Graphic Designer: Marcia Tavares Smith marcia@marciadesigns.co.uk The opinions presented in Solution News are those of the relevant authors and do not represent the views of the UKASFP. UKASFP membership is only £10 per annum. To join, visit www.ukasfp.co.uk Contributions and correspondence should be sent to: editor@solution-news.co.uk. Copyright to the articles published in Solution News is vested in the relevant author(s) whose permission should be sought before reproducing their article elsewhere. A copy may be made for your personal reference. If you would like to contact any author the editor will forward your request. Design and layout are copyright © 2007 United Kingdom Association for Solution Focused Practice. All rights reserved. Solution News may be distributed freely in its entirety. Please tell others about us!

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


Peer reviewed article

The Miracle Question Andrew Callcott investigates the use and disuse of SF’s best known strategy. Introduction During the course of several years learning, practising and discussing solution focused brief therapy (SFBT) it has been apparent both my own practice and with colleagues that some aspects of the model are used more readily than others. In this paper I describe the selfreported use of the miracle question (MQ) by four cohorts of SFBT masters degree students, and examine whether there are specific circumstances where these practitioners would not use the MQ. The miracle question was developed as a strategy to help clients see their lives without the problem, without being encumbered or restricted by concerns over how this might be achieved. Insoo Kim Berg (in Berg and Dolan, 2001) recounts the moment in the mid 1990s when the miracle question was introduced into her work. A despondent client, giving a pessimistic answer to a fairly conventional opening question, added “unless you have a miracle” (p6). Taking the client’s cue, Insoo asked “well suppose there was a miracle, what would be different for you?” This opened up the conversation to a long description of how life would be easier for her. There followed a lot of experimentation with the phrasings until the Brief Family Therapy Centre team settled on

the versions with which we are familiar today. There are numerous examples of how the miracle question might be worded (see de Shazer 1985, 1988, 1999, Berg and Miller 1992, Berg and Dolan 2001, George et al 1990, O’Connell 1998 and Beyebach 2000 for some examples). Despite differences in wording, all have a basic consistency. The idea of a ‘strange’ or ‘unusual’ question is introduced to prepare the client and perhaps intrigue them prior to the asking. Clients are then asked to imagine going home, going to bed, and whilst sleeping, without their knowing, a miracle happening, that miracle being the resolution of the problems that brought them into therapy. They are then invited to describe what is different on waking. This is done in as much detail as possible, describing the behaviours of the client and of others in relation to the client throughout the imagined next day. De Shazer (1999) was very specific about the pauses within the question, giving the client a chance to engage with the exercise, and, it has been suggested (Berg and Dolan 2001, de Shazer 1994) that this brings into play a kind of hypnotic trance.

Andrew is a mental health nurse in the North East of England. A keen SFBT enthusiast since introduced to the approach by Brief Therapy Practice in 1995 and more recently graduating with an MA in SFBT from Birmingham University. He has established services in self harm and primary care mental health, and currently works with the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Service in Newcastle.

It is noteworthy that therapist strategies that are associated with the miracle question can be seen in therapeutic work

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

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The Miracle Question

by Andrew Callcott

that pre-dates the advent of SFBT. Adler invited patients to imagine a future free of symptoms as early as 1925 (O’Connell 1998). Sperry and Carlson (described in Hoyt, 1998) explore the Adlerian connection further, describing “the question” where clients are to imagine ‘doing’ life at some point in the future with the problem resolved. Indeed, the Adlerian technique of ‘acting “as if”’ (p73) links closely with the commonly used homework task of inviting clients to act as if part of the miracle is already happening. Whilst most papers and books written about SFBT describe the skills or techniques involved, relatively little has been written about the extent to which they are used, or the consistency of their use amongst solution focused workers. In a meta-analysis of eighteen controlled studies, Gingerich and Eisengart (2001) provide an indication of which SFBT techniques were employed in the interventions being examined in each study. Most prevalent was the goal setting intervention (17 studies). Next was the compliments and task message (15 studies), the search for exceptions (13), scaling questions (11) the miracle question (9), search for pre-session change (4), and least frequent the consulting break with only three of the eighteen studies using this. The relatively low frequency with which the miracle question is employed is perhaps surprising given that it may be the best known of all the SFBT techniques, and the fact that the European Brief Therapy Association (EBTA) definition of SFBT for research purposes suggests that the miracle question MUST be used. However, this low frequency of usage is borne out by other studies. For example, Kegley (2000) surveyed school counsellors who had been trained in SFBT and found only a 25.5% usage of the miracle question, the lowest frequency of all twelve SFBT techniques investigated. Cunanan (2003) also studied the frequency of use of SF techniques, using a scale of 1 (never use the technique) to 5 (always use the technique). With a mean score of 2.7, the miracle question was only kept off of bottom place by the mid-session break (mean = 2.1)!

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However, this low frequency of usage doesn’t seem to be an indication that the technique is not considered helpful. Skidmore (in McKeel, 1996) reported that graduates from SFBT programmes describe the miracle question as being the most therapeutic of all SFBT techniques, even though they also reported using it less often than scaling and exceptionseeking questions. This disparity between the perceived usefulness of the miracle question and its frequent neglect appears in my own practice. I estimate that I use the MQ as traditionally described with approximately 30 percent of the patients that I see, yet when I do use it I almost never regret having done so. In conversation, other SFBT enthusiasts often report similar behaviour in their practice. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to try and quantify the use of the MQ amongst a cohort of SFBT practitioners, and to enquire whether there are common characteristics of situations where the MQ is not used.

Methodology Design The study used a survey with scaling questions which would be familiar to the participants, and also invited comment from the respondents. The quantitative data was analysed using simple descriptive statistics and this given more depth by the supporting qualitative data, which was subjected to a content analysis of its emergent themes. Sample Participants were members of four cohorts of University SFBT Masters Degree students (n=60). All potential participants had had SFBT training prior to studying on the MA course and were currently practicing SFBT in a clinical or field setting. Procedure Initially a focus group was held with the Northumberland SFBT Interest Group to generate a discussion regarding the use and abandonment of a range of SFBT techniques. This enabled clarification of the questions to be addressed in the survey.

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


The Miracle Question

by Andrew Callcott

Potential participants were sent questionnaires that asked about their previous experience and their other therapy training. They were asked about the extent to which they used a range of SFBT techniques, and to identify specific examples of where they would not use the techniques. This paper focuses on the results in relation to the miracle question alone. Of the 60 people surveyed, 33 questionnaires were returned completed, giving a response rate of 55%.

Results Participants’ SFBT experience ranged from 1 – 14 years, with a mean of 6.2 years. There were seven students with three or less years’ experience, and ten who had over 10 years’ prior SFBT experience. Most of the participants (n=29) had training in other models of counselling or psychotherapy in addition to their SFBT training. Only four used SFBT as their only therapeutic modality. Ten of the respondents were trained in three or more additional models of therapy. The most commonly occurring ‘other therapies’ practiced by participants were person-centred (n=14), cognitive-behavioural (n=13), behavioural (n=7), transactional analysis (n=6), psychodynamic (n=5), and systemic family therapy (n=5). Some participants had also been trained in motivational interviewing, neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis, EMDR, problem-solving therapy and behavioural family therapy. Participants were asked “on a scale of 0-10, where 0 equals you never use this technique with any clients, and 10 equals you consistently use the technique with all clients please consider the following: Asking and following up the ‘Miracle Question’

I never use this technique with any client 0

1

2

3

I always use this technique with all clients 4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Responses ranged from a minimum of 2/10 to a maximum of 10/10 across the sample. The sample mean was 5.8. The mean ratings for different sub-groups of the sample are shown in table 1. As can be seen, those with least experience of SFBT (i.e. the group with three or less years’ experience) were least likely to ask the miracle question, scoring 4.5. Those who were most likely to ask the miracle question were those who had training in three or more additional models of therapy, scoring 6.8. Those who rated themselves as using the miracle question most consistently were also more likely to rate themselves as more consistently using the other techniques. Lowusage of the miracle question was likewise predictive of not using the other SFBT techniques. Interestingly, however, people who had expressed the strongest possible agreement with the statement “solution focussed brief therapy underpins all the work I do” (n=13) were only marginally more likely to use the miracle question than the whole sample; 61% compared with 58% overall. Table 1. Responses to ‘Asking and following up the ‘Miracle Question’. Mean scores for how consistently the MQ is asked All respondents n – 33 3 or less years SFBT practice n = 7 10 or more years SFBT practice n = 10 No other model of therapy n=4 3 or more other models of therapy n = 10

5.8 4.5 6.2 6.7 6.8

The second part of the questionnaire looked at situations where the students would definitely not use the miracle question. The following question was asked: “Are there circumstances where you would definitely not use the miracle question?”

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

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The Miracle Question

by Andrew Callcott

As can be seen in table 2, the students who had used three or more models of working other than SFBT were twice as likely to answer yes to this question compared to those who had training in SFBT only.

Process Related: This is where the therapist has judged it not necessary or appropriate to introduce the technique because of factors arising from the therapeutic process. ·

Table 2. Identifying circumstances where MQ would not be used.

• Negative experience of the miracle question with this client – 6

Yes

No

All respondents

68%

32%

3+ models of therapy

80%

20%

SFBT only

40%

60%

3 or less years SFBT

43%

57%

10+ years SFBT

50%

50%

The next stage of the survey sought to qualify the responses with examples which have been coded into emergent themes, and the development of four categories. These were:

This applies where the nature of the presenting problem was the reason for not using the miracle question • Bereavement – 6 respondents identified this as a problem where they would not use the miracle question • Psychosis – 3 respondents identified this. • Trauma – 1 respondent

Client Attributes: This applies where the common theme is of client factors separate to and distinct from the presenting problem. • Poor cognitive functioning – 3 • Asylum Seeker – 1 • Non-specific. Perceived nonreceptiveness – 2

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• Therapist anticipates an antitherapeutic answer – 3 (2 with bereaved clients). • Therapist anticipates timing not right – 3

Therapist Attributes: In this case the student identifies factors that are purely related to themselves and neither the client nor the process. • No examples were given.

Discussion

Problem Type:

• Young age – 3

• Already established a preferred future another way – 2

The results in this study shed some light on the behaviours of the students as perceived and reported by themselves. In terms of consistency, the data supports that of Cunanan (2003) who studied a fairly similar but considerably smaller cohort of SFBT enthusiasts. However, it should be borne in mind that the use of an ordinal rather than an interval scale may have resulted in a slight weakening of the data integrity, as the clustering of scores may not have been comparing ‘like with like’ – for example, one person’s 6/10 may not match another’s. For consistency of usage of the miracle question, Cunanan’s sample reported a mean score of 5.4, compared with a mean of 5.8 in this study. However a comparison of the studies does reveal a big differences in the use of the technique between SFBT enthusiasts (in this study), and those who have had a brief training whilst practising as school counsellors (Kegley 2000) with Kegley’s sample less than half as likely to report very consistent use of the miracle question.

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


The Miracle Question The responses of the more experienced practitioners in this study (those with 10 or more years of SFBT experience and those who have more than three models of therapy at their disposal) shows that they are both more likely to use the miracle question and more likely to identify where they would not. This suggests that the decision to leave out the technique may well be based on experience in the field rather than a lack of alternative options or lack of confidence in the approach. Students in the study specifically identified bereavement as a problem type where they would not use the miracle question. However, there appear to be no examples in the literature that describe a negative experience of use of this question with this problem. However, this could be accounted for by the fact that published cases tend to be those that have gone well. Butler and Powers (1996) describe ‘Solution Focused Grief Therapy’, which includes asking the miracle question. They acknowledge that “persons ready to use SFBT with many other kinds of problems put it aside when dealing with grief” (p246). Remarkably, in no instance did any of the 33 respondents identify reasons that lay within themselves not to ask the question. Butlers and Powers claim that “These perceptions on the part of therapists, however, come more from the therapists’ biases, histories, and emotions than from objective reality” (p246). It is clear that an alternative methodology than this will be needed to tease these therapist attributes out, if indeed this is the case. Psychosis has been identified as a problem where some students would not use the miracle question. Solution focused work with people experiencing ‘psychotic illness’ has been described by Booker (1996), Vaughn et al (1996) and O’Hanlon and Rowan (2003). In the descriptions of their work, these authors have tended to favour alternative ‘preferred future’ questions to the miracle question itself, suggesting a wider reticence when it comes to asking the question with people

by Andrew Callcott experiencing psychotic phenomena. Further publications describing the application of SFBT in these areas may be helpful in dispelling the notion that SFBT is contra-indicated with certain problems. Alternatively, descriptions of SFBT sessions that have been hindered by the unwelcome application of the techniques would give some evidence to support the belief that these techniques should be avoided with bereavement and psychosis. Pursuing this study has not diminished my view that using the miracle question is far more often helpful than unhelpful, however it is pleasing to note that where it is neglected, strategies with similar intent are used in its place. To conclude, whilst the miracle question is one of the trademarks of SFBT, this study supports the small body of evidence to date that suggests that it is often sidelined in clinical practice. Those who are more experience in the approach and with a wider range of therapies to draw upon are both more likely to use the miracle question and are better able to identify when they would not. There appears to be a particular reticence to asking the miracle question to those who are bereaved, despite an absence of published evidence suggesting that this is contra-indicated.

References Berg, I.K. and Dolan, Y. (2001) Tales Of Solutions – A Collection of Hope Inspiring Stories. New York, Norton. Berg, I.K. & Miller, S.D. (1992) Working With the Problem Drinker. A Solution Focused Approach. New York, Norton. Beyebach, M. (2000) European Brief Therapy Association Outcome Study: Research Definition. http://www.ebta.nu/sfbt-researchdefinition.html Booker, J. (1996) Solution Focused Hospital Diversion: Treatment of First Choice. In Miller, S., Hubble, M.A. and Duncan, B.L., (eds) Handbook of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. San Fransisco, Jossey-Bass. Cunanan, E.D. (2003) What Works When Learning Solution Focused Brrief Therapy: A Qualitative Analysis of Trainees Experiences. Unpublished Master of Science Dissertation. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

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The Miracle Question

by Andrew Callcott

De Shazer, S. (1985) Keys to Solutions in Brief Therapy. New York, Norton.

Solution Focused Brief Counselling in the School Setting. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

De Shazer, S. (1988) Clues: Investigating Solutions in Brief Therapy. New York, Norton. De Shazer, S. (1994) Words Were Originally Magic. New York, Norton. De Shazer, S. (1999) The Miracle Question. www. brief-therapy.org George, E., Iveson, C. and Ratner, H. (1990). Problem to Solution. Brief Therapy with Individuals and Families. London, BT Press. Gingerich, W.J. & Eisengart, S. (1999) Solution Focused Brief Therapy: A Review of the Outcome Literature. Unpublished paper given to the International Family Therapy Association, Akron, Ohio. April 15 1999 www.gingerich.net Hoyt, M. F. (ed) (1998) Handbook of Constructive Therapies. San Fransisco, Jossey-Bass. Kegley, J.B. (2000) Perceptions of Elementary School Counsellors Regarding the Utility of

McKeel, A.J. (1996) A Clinician’s Guide to Research on Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. In Miller, S., Hubble, M.A. and Duncan, B.L. (eds) Handbook of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. San Fransisco, Jossey-Bass. O’Connell, B. (1998) Solution Focused Therapy. London, Sage. O’Hanlon, W. H. & Rowan, T. (2003) Solution Oriented Therapy for Chronic and Severe Mental Illness. New York, Norton. Vaughn, K., Cox Young, B., Webster, D.C. and Marshall, T.R. (1996) Solution-Focused Work in the Hospital: A Continuum of Care Model for Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment. In Miller, S.D., Hubble, M.A. & Duncan B.L.(eds) Handbook of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. San Fransisco. Jossey-Bass.

DISTRIBUTION NEWS Solution News is still spreading the SF word around the globe. As at 20.10.2007: The total number of copies of Solution News January 2007 issue downloaded from the website was 2,289. The total number of first time visitors to the Solution News web-site since launch was 6590 The total number of countries Solution News had been downloaded from was 83 (welcome to our new readers in Vietnam and Iran!). Countries Where Solution News Is Read, In Red!

World map created by World66 (visit www.world66.com)

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Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


ASSOCIATION NEWS A round-up of the work of the UKASFP sub-systems Dorota Rospierska, the UKASP secretary, gives a brief update on what the general committee have been up to. The general committee last met on 30th July in Keele, and are due to meet again in October. Here’s a summary of what we have been doing. Membership: The committee discussed benefits of being a member of the UKASFP and a need for moving the association to the next step of functioning on a more professional level. It was discussed whether the current annual UKASFP subscription of £10 per year per member was too small either to develop the association and there were concerns that it reduced the association’s prestige. The comittee agreed that to present a new vision of the association to members asking how the UKASFP could become an national voice and how we could get where we want to go. ‘Away Day’ in December: This day was planned in order to help develop a strategy for the association. The day is for committee members to get together with others who are involved in other SF organisations. Steve (chair) sent a letter via the e-mail list to all members inviting all who would like to shape the development of the association, and this has met a positive response.

Advertising: It was decided that the Association needed to be advertised more actively e.g. adverts on the EBTA site and creating and distributing the Asociation leaflet could be a good start. The first draft of a leaflet has been already produced by Carole Waskett. Solution News: The next Solution News will be out in October. Ian (editor) will then take a break from editing and a guest editor will be stepping in for two ‘research’ special issues. Web site: There had been requests from some members for a bulletin board to replace the email list, but on balance the committee decided to keep the format of the forum as it is for the present, as the addition of a digest option seems to have resolved many of the problems. Following the email discussion about how to acquire BACP accreditation, an e-mail loop has been launched for those interested in getting accredited to help and support each other. Accreditation: A new accreditation committee has been formed and they have begun to meet. A report from them is due to be fed back to the general committee this month. The general committee also discussed a need to set up a standards & ethics committee. Conference: Feedback from the 2007 conference

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1• October 2007

was mostly positive. Participants liked food, venue, accommodation and format.

✎ Bill O’Connell, our national development officer (NDO), provides us with an update on...er.. national developments: As a genuinely solutionfocused NDO, I intend to encourage what’s already working and do something different where it isn’t. My first impression in my new post (which I thought was for one year with the possibility of parole, but metamorphosed into a three year sentence before I even started!) is that there are already a number of very industrious people working to project the Association profile. I hope to be able to make a positive contribution to what they are doing. As an organisation with virtually no funds and a membership in the mid200s, we have to be realistic about what we can achieve (BACP for example, has almost 30,000 members and an income of about £1.5M). If we are going to grow we need to find ways of raising income for development purposes. It would be an immense help if the agencies which ‘sell’ solution focused, became a point of recruitment to the Association. This is already happening to some extent, and we have convened a meeting in December to explore how

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agencies and the association could work together for the mutual benefit of both. On a strategic front we need to clarify our business model. Do we want the association to be run from the centre by a group of dedicated committee volunteers who consult the members about virtually everything? Do we want to delegate powers to the committee to get on with things without being held back by divided opinions in the membership? (I think there is room for some of this, otherwise we end up doing nothing because not everyone agrees with everything!) What could be devolved to regional groups? We also need to develop a PR function. Members can help in this by spotting opportunities for SF to get its word in edgeways. This has begun to happen already, but we could do with a lot more publicity. I’m sure I could interest some journalists in our work, but the first thing they will ask for is a case study. If you are in a position where clients would be willing to talk about their SF experience, please let me know. I will do my best to develop the association within the limits of the time I have available.

✎ Paul Hanton reports on the 2008 conference preparations: In September three of the four volunteers that are organising the 2008 conference met to start the process. The conference group now have a clear

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‘action plan’ for the coming months and this, and the minutes of the meeting proper can be accessed by members on the UKASFP website. The dates for next year’s conference will be 12th June (AGM) in the evening, with the main conference being held on the 13th June. The conference venue will again be Keele as so much positive feedback was received regarding this venue, with a plan to shift location in 2009. We are planning initially for 150 delegates (we can book more, rooms and space, with notice, if needed). Costs will need to raised slightly, to cover publicity etc, and there will be a greater difference between the price for nonmembers (£80) and members (£50). It was agreed that as SFBT has been around in the UK for nearly 20 years we should have a ‘grown up’ theme and title: ‘Are we there yet? Have SFBT and solution focused approaches, reached maturity in the UK?’ It was also decided to approach a well known figure (no details yet) to be keynote speaker. The majority of the day will again feature ‘hosted conversations’ rather than formal presentations, this year on criminal justice, children & families, doctors & nurses, therapy, education, and user led / expert patient organisations. The conference group would encourage those that had not presented / spoken at a conference before to volunteer to host the conversations. The organising group is enthusiastic, but small, so if you feel you could offer

any help, please contact me at paulhanton@blueyonder. co.uk. If you can put packs together, or lick envelopes, or take phone calls/enquiries, or help on the day, or anything really, drop me an email. And, keep checking in to the website for updates.

✎ Mark McKergow provides a summary of the accreditation comittee’s discsussions: The Accreditation SubCommittee has established its own email discussion, and some of us met in person in London during August. We have started discussions about what kind of accreditation might be appropriate for UKASFP by looking at other organisations and professions, and are also getting familiar with the requirements and role of the new Health Professions Council. We are close to publishing a glossary of accreditation-related terms which may help to clarify future discussions with members, and are also looking at producing a possible code of ethics for the Association. This issue has many aspects and the members bring a wide range of views to our discussions - indeed we are being very careful to assume as little as possible and leave all options (including no accreditation) open at this stage. The interests of non-therapists, as well as therapists, are also being actively considered. More news soon!

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


Peer reviewed article

‘Singing to the Same Tune’ Anne Proctor explores possibilities and potential for introducing a SF approach into a university setting Introduction The first motivation for writing this paper is the pleasure of celebrating with other people the way that giving a focus to solutions not problems works and gives hope and a sense of possibility. The second is perhaps more personal to me and that is, to explore the possibilities for applying the SF approach within a university. For me, working as a counsellor in a university, this approach with its appeal and applicability to a wide range of individuals, groups and settings offers great potential to integrate the counselling service much more into the more general life of the university. In the past, counselling services have quite typically kept themselves on the periphery of university life, in order (it seems) to better protect the confidentiality of clients and the integrity of the service (Hewitt and Wheeler 2004). This is no longer the case as counsellors are called upon to contribute to the more general needs of the institution in such areas as: staff counselling; retention of students; decision making; self –harm and suicide; drug abuse prevention, and other needs of a changing university environment and student body (Percy 2004, Stokoe 2004, Yorke and Longden 2004). This paper will attempt to show how the use of the SF approach with its focus on possibilities and its flexibility has

the potential to help to create this integration.

The Process of development Within counselling and related student services Figure 1 shows pathways of the development of SF practice within the university. The use of an SF approach began in the counselling service, initially, in response to the need for brevity in length of contract. However, its helpfulness and merits became apparent in their own right. Within the team, in case conferences, supervision and in response to further training, counsellors continue to explore the potential of the approach and the extent to which they want their current practice to be influenced by it. An important extension of this has been a focus on the needs of particular students. The university has responded very positively to legislation on equality of opportunity and increasing numbers of students with disabilities or learning difficulties have been recruited. The support for these students is initiated by the inclusion services (IS), made up of the inclusion team (IT) and the Student Learning Support team (SLST). The IT seek to enable students with disabilities to make the best

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

Anne is a counsellor at Edge Hill University in the North West of England. Her previous career in teaching and teacher education has given her some insights into the experiences of students and into University life. She is now trying to apply her previous research experience to the exploration and understanding of counselling and the solution focused approach. Anne’s interaction with solution focused practice has been exhilarating and her thanks go out to all those people who have helped to generate that excitement. She can be contacted at proctork@edgehill. ac.uk.

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‘Singing to the Same Tune’

by Anne Proctor

possible use of their opportunities and to contribute fully to the life of the university. Learning Facilitators (LFs) offer one-to-one support to students depending upon their individual needs (e.g. access to lectures and written material for a blind student, support in general access for students with complex emotional difficulties). The SLST provides a range of advice and direct support to students with a range of learning difficulties. The work of the LFs and the SLST team can be demanding and challenging. Because of the co-operation already initiated between the managers within student services, the head of the IT suggested a cooperative approach to supporting the LFs in their work. The outcome of this approach is a good example of the extension of the SF approach outside of the counselling team. A 10 hour programme, Figure 1. Development of SF practice within the university. taking place over six weeks was planned the LFs were engaged or to their personal for a small group of experience. The response was very positive LFs. In practical, interactive sessions, and the head of the inclusion team asked the main elements of the SF approach for the same training to be given over two were introduced. These included: clients’ days to the whole management team. goals/expectations; clients’ resources; the During the past year, consultation has miracle question; exceptions; use of coping continued and quite detailed planning is in questions and scales; focus on the use place to set up a coaching scheme for LFs of clients’ language, and description and and their student clients. The significant promotion of specific, small, positive steps development for the team is in introducing (EBTA, 2000). Every effort was made to the approach directly to the student clients. apply these elements to the work in which

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Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


‘Singing to the Same Tune’ Co-operative working continues and new LFs are receiving training. The SLST team requested a similar two-day training session and this was followed up at three month intervals with sessions on issues identified by the team, both student support and team development. Members of the team began to consult with the counselling service and some specific referrals were made. During the course of the year another opportunity arose from the accommodation team. Student assistants live in the halls of residence to support students living on the campus and have always received input from the counselling service. However, this year a different approach was negotiated with the accommodation service, based on a solution focused approach. The feedback from the students was positive and plans have been made to repeat and develop the presentation.

Staff development within the university The activities described above are typical of the increasing co-operation already taking place within student support services. However, two new and rather different approaches were made to the service. One of these was from the staff development unit who, having heard about the training, suggested that it might become a part of the staff development programme. Short introductory courses, open to all university staff and offered at a number of different points throughout the year have now been put into the programme. There will also be an opportunity for individuals or small groups to request that sessions be put on to meet a particular identified team need and followed up by a series of SF group sessions. Another approach came from a management team facing some significant challenges. What was offered to them was a space where there would be an acknowledgement of their difficulties accompanied by an opportunity to focus on successes and strengths and then on what the team really wanted. A trial period was agreed with a specific undertaking that if the group were not helpful an alternative

by Anne Proctor approach would be offered. The feedback from this group has been positive and regular sessions have taken place.

What people liked about the approach It is not surprising to anybody who is familiar with the SF approach, that the comments/ opinions of the participants can almost be summarised under the heading of a “change in mindset”. As one person put it, “I think that once you move into a more positive mindset, all aspects of your practice change as your focus moves way from what’s wrong”. This change of “mindset” included for them a focus on and recognition of their own strengths. Some comments illustrate this: “we recognised that we had the solutions already”; “we began taking our contribution seriously”; “we were creating hope”; “when we used SF approach as a team we were able to identify and see how strong and able we are as a team” and “ I think it is particularly important when working with students with Specific learning difficulties as many of them have encountered such negative approaches in the past and the focus has been on what they cannot do and I feel it is so important for their self confidence and morale to have the emphasis on the positives and what they have achieved”. The relationship between the “mindset” and the actions associated with that change may be quite complicated, for example, which comes first? What is important for an SF practitioner is the development of hopes and strategies which will “make a difference” and participants reported on a number of such strategies: • a focus on goals/best hopes (not problems) • a very explicit focus on personal strengths, their own and those of their clients • recognition that by the use of questions the solutions which they or their clients already “knew” could become explicit

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‘Singing to the Same Tune’

by Anne Proctor

• the use of imagination to lead themselves and their clients into a hopeful and possible future • a future action which could be broken down into tiny and manageable steps (e.g. “it’s about taking steps which are so tiny that we haven’t even thought about them”) • recognising the value of rehearsing the “next steps” in developing the future actions A by-product of the SF work was the focus on team development. Originally, the work was initiated to offer support to staff working in challenging situations but, as the training took place, the focus began to be placed on team development and this was firmly expressed in the evaluations. For example, “I think these sessions have provided a good foundation for team development within our department and given those who have chosen to be involved a greater sense of belonging and cohesion – an invisible safety net”. Another feature which was mentioned frequently in the evaluations, was, for want of a better term, “the integrating function”. This was expressed in different ways which seemed to have a common basis in the applicability of the approach. Participants talked about: • the way in which the approach helped their clients both in terms of managing their learning and in terms of emotional support (an important feature for many of their student clients) • the approach helped them in their work with individual clients but also in work with groups and in their own personal lives • an extension of the “work with groups” was emphasised in the way in which it helped in developing a “whole team approach” • the way it “helped us to see ourselves as a group as connected to the rest of the university”

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The first three specifically show applicability to different areas of the participants’ work and lives. However, the last one is a bit different and applied more to the way people came to re-define their role in relationship to other members of the university. For example, a member of the SLST team, almost without thinking, said “I see now that really it’s the responsibility of the teaching staff to do, not ours”. In other words the focus on the solution gave much wider possibilities which included responsibilities of people outside of their team and a new way of thinking about their work. This will considered again in the next section.

Discussion So how does the metaphor “singing to the same tune” find its way into this paper? On the basis of the content of the previous sections, this section will return to a discussion of the possibilities and potential of an SF approach in a university setting and try to justify this title.

The strengths of the SF approach In counselling related activities in a university, the SF approach has all the strengths which have been described in many places (e.g. Berg and Dolan 2001, Duncan et al 2007, George et al 1999, McDonald 2007, McKergow and Clarke 2004, O’Connell 2005). Without exception the participants celebrated the focus given to strengths. Recognising their own skills and what they had achieved helped some members of teams to be pro-active in asking for and expecting support for their work. They recognised that they could fulfil their roles and it was reasonable to ask others to fulfil theirs. In their work with students they were already trying to maintain a positive stance and this was reinforced. One interesting outcome which illustrates this, was in the filling in of forms. These had an important part in the work of all aspects of inclusion and learning needs because of making formal applications for funding.

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


‘Singing to the Same Tune’ Now, instead of systematically describing “deficits”, some people found themselves wanting to begin by acknowledging strengths before going onto what might “make things even better”. For example, one outcome statement read: “we want to highlight strengths and feed these into the evaluations, almost by formalising these strengths and possibilities”. Many participants were also excited by the importance of questioning in recognising strengths, developing goals and identifying possibilities and exceptions. As was pointed out above, they saw that they had all sort of ideas which they only realised they had when somebody asked them systematic and thoughtful questions. They began to want the same for their student clients by giving them the initiative in the interviews/sessions. Again, a selection from outcome statements may illustrate this: “we want to give more emphasis to ‘how would you like things to change?’ and “we would like the process to be open-ended, i.e. that we do not have a pre-conceived notion of what matters to the students but listen to what really seems to be important to them” and “perhaps another way of putting this is that although certain formal procedures have to be completed the students will be made aware that there will be a definite time for them to control”. This study did not involve asking for feedback from these student clients but there is a hint from the feedback of student assistants after their training session. The feedback notes “it worked very well, they really did appreciate their own skills and what they can do. It was very good for them to participate by identifying their own issues and becoming involved in them”. This felt like a move away from being “inducted” into the “best” ways of working with difficult student colleagues in the halls of residence. One further example is in the development of small manageable steps towards preferred futures/ solutions/goals. The description of these became an important part of sessions and seemed to lead to a sense of purpose in having covered a lot of ground. So important did they seem that the facilitator

by Anne Proctor recorded these in a written form as feedback to the groups. However, one challenge for many participants, including myself and the counselling team, was how to keep in mind what they wanted to do and/or not “fall back” into older learned ways and responses. Articulating hopes and goals within the group was therefore a way of keeping the new ways of working going.

The Non–expert stance One significant contribution which the SF approach can make is its “non- expert” stance (e.g. O’Connell 2005). As described above the approach may be practised, not only by counsellors, but also by other colleagues. The impact of this may be important for many students who feel unable to attend for counselling with its implication that they “cannot manage” or “there must be something the matter with me” (North 2002). To go to a study advisor may seem more acceptable than going to a counsellor, but counsellors may still be in a position to share expertise, by training and working with colleagues in a consultative or supervisory capacity. The projected work on coaching may well turn out to be a good example of this. With a limited input in terms of training from the counselling service, the LFs and their student clients will be able to use the approach in a way which meets their needs and maintains their autonomy. As a result , the work of the counselling service may become supervisory, by offering opportunities for “checking out” use of the SF approach. There have already been a number of instances in which supervision in this sense has been requested.

Integration & conclusion In the face-to-face area of student support, the SF approach has enhanced the cooperation which was already there by encouraging shared training, consultation and perhaps a greater cross referencing of the different work carried out by the different sections. In some cases even the language of the SF approach has enhanced

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‘Singing to the Same Tune’

by Anne Proctor

this cross referencing and made consultation more effective. At this stage there may not be enough evidence to gauge the direct impact on students experience but there are possibilities to explore that. The permeation of the ideas into the other parts of the university is exciting, although how and what might develop is uncertain. It is tempting to think that the value of a common approach and a shared language as well as mutual respect which this has helped to generate across different sections of the university may enhance the cooperation which already exists. Also there is the possibility hinted at above that the SF approach may begin to have another type of role in describing and then generating a coordinating approach to policy development. The university has been very pro-active in enabling students with a range of challenges to enter Higher Education. These challenges range from disabilities through specific learning difficulties, through access via nonconventional backgrounds. The support for students facing these challenges is provided by a number of sections of the university. In trying to identify the co-ordinating themes from these different inputs, the SF approach has helped to provide, explicitly, a core focus on strengths and solutions. In this way, the principles of the approach have the potential to direct the work as well as contributing to it. It may be presumptuous to talk about integration when as yet we have not considered the role of the SF approach in teaching and learning within the faculties. However this is very much work in progress and the possibilities for the future are exciting.

References Berg, I. K. and Dolan, Y. (2001) Tales of Solutions: A Collection of Hope-Inspiring Stories. New York, London, W.W.Norton and Company. Duncan, L., Ghul, R. and Mousley, S. (2007) Creating Positive Futures: Solution Focused Recovery from Mental Distress. London, BT Press. European Brief Therapy Association (2007) EBTA Research Protocol, http://www.solutionsdoc. co.uk/ebtamain.html, accessed 10/09/2007 George, E. ,Iveson, C. and Ratner, H. (1999)(2nd Ed) Interviewing for Solutions. London, BT Press. Hewitt, E. and Wheeler,S. (2004) Counselling in Higher Education: the Experience of Lone Counsellors, in British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, Vol. 32, No.4. MacDonald, A. (2007) Solution Focused Therapy: Theory, Research and Practice. Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Sage Publications. McKergow, M. and Clarke, J. (2005) Positive Approaches to Change: Applications of Solutions Focus and Appreciative Inquiry at Work. UK, Solution Books. North, P. (2002) Students under stress – so why are they not queuing up for counselling?, in AUCC Journal, Special Issue, November 2002. O’Connell, B. (2005) (2nd Ed) Solution Focused Therapy. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi, Sage Publications. Percy, A. (2004) Student induction: addressing the psychology of transition, in AUCC Journal, Special issue, Winter 2004. Stokoe, P. (2004) What makes a healthy institution?, in AUCC Journal, Special Issue, Winter 2004 Yorke, M. and Longden, B. (2004) Retention and student success in H.E. – setting the scene, in AUCC Journal, Special Issue, Winter 2004

CORRESPONDENCE We welcome your views and comments on any article in Solution News, the UKASFP, or on any other solution focused topic. Send your correspondence to letters@solution-news.co.uk, indicating clearly whether you intend your correspondence for print or solely for consumption by the Solution News team. 16

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


BOOK REVIEW Duncan, Lucia, Ghul, Rayya and Mousley, Sarah (2007) Creating Positive Futures: Solution Focused Recovery from Mental Distress. London: BT Press ISBN 978-1871697-79-7 Review 1 - by Harvey Ratner (practitioner / trainer): This book has been long awaited. The three authors, all Occupational Therapists, have been developing their solution focused measure of occupational function for several years, researching and refining it to ensure the highest degree of usefulness. At first sight it might be assumed that the book is a specialist text for their fellow colleagues only but this is far from the case. Anyone working to enable clients to recover from mental distress will find much that they can use in this book. This is because, as the well known brief therapy author and teacher Brian Cade emphasises in his foreword, the authors have made a distinction between occupation and activity. The book shows how we can move away from prescribing graduated tasks, often standardised, to make an assessment of the client’s skills. Via solution focused practice, we emphasise the actions the person chooses and does for themselves. The book begins with a superb chapter by Rayya entitled ‘A Solution Focus’ and it is as good an introduction to the solution focused approach as one can hope to find. The approach is elegantly described and illustrated with appropriate and clear case examples. Rayya describes the way that solution focused questions enable the practitioner to move beyond the traditional methods of assessment of client functioning. For example, the focus on the small signs that will tell clients that their lives are getting better “are often things that a therapist would not be able to uncover through a formal assessment. Often they are things which could appear trivial and easily overlooked. For example, one client identified being able to complete the crossword as a sign of being well. She then used ‘being able to do a little bit more of the crossword each week’ as a sign of progress. The way this sign was discussed also meant that the

client noticed and valued every extra word she was able to get each week, rather than focusing on still not being able to complete the crossword”. Rayya also illustrates the way that, through solution focused questions, clients will often find their own ways to describe the kinds of changes that therapists have often assumed are important for people. For example, a client might talk about becoming ‘less distracted’. When asked for evidence of that the client gives a description (such as reading a few pages of a magazine) that fits with professional criteria such as ‘improving concentration’. This attention to personal detail is also used to describe the way this approach can help to engage even the most seemingly uncooperative of clients, by the therapist becoming interested in the smallest responses that the client makes. The example given relates to the use of solution focused scale questions, another invaluable tool in the SF toolkit! The next two chapters take the reader through the Solution Focused Measure of Occupational Function. As Rayya comments in her introduction (p.6) “an intervention, however well reasoned, which is not meaningful for the client will not be effective. This is why many pieces of equipment lie unused in the homes of disabled people and why the in-patient in a mental health unit may not want to attend a pre-determined group programme”. The measure, initially designed by Lucia and Sarah and subsequently modified by all three authors, is a brilliantly constructed instrument for enabling clients to discover, with the therapist, their way of doing what is best for them, rather than what we might think is right for them. “This provides a rich source of information that can used to develop solutions that are more likely to work, instead of ‘prescribing’ activities and blaming the client for not co-operating” (p.45). The occupational ‘assessment’ is therefore of

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

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BOOK REVIEW immediate therapeutic benefit to the client and is one of the reasons that this form of working produces ‘brief’ interventions. The Measure consists of 25 statements, such as “I am able to talk to people”, “I am able to calm myself when needed”, “I can make positive goals for the future”. “All the statements are framed as positive statements rather than statements of dysfunction, so clients rate themselves on what they can do” (p.47). Clients are asked to rate themselves in relation to each statement on a four point scale of ‘not at all’, ‘sometimes’, ‘mostly’ and ‘definitely’. The authors state that the therapist using the measure does not need to understand solution focused brief therapy in order to use it. The book provides copies of the forms used for the measure, as well numerous case examples to illustrate their use. In the next chapter we are given a number of worksheets that show the way typical solution focused questions, such as “What will I be doing differently when I am confident?” “What do I notice about the times when I am able to concentrate?” can be worked on with the client. Before the chapter ‘Examples From Practice’, which is exactly as it says it is, there is a highly interesting chapter entitled ‘Continuing Professional Development’ which provides worksheets for the use by practitioners to appraise and supervise themselves and others in a solution focused way. All in all, I see this book as a highly practical and readable addition to the growing solution focused literature. Coming from the Occupational Therapist perspective, I believe it is the first of its kind in the world.

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Review 2 - By Gerry Benson (service user) As someone who receives enhanced mental health services, the present climate and move to recovery-focused services is a welcome and progressive one. This publication describes practical tools and case studies showing how SFBT fits within the present climate of recovery. It is a welcome read from all perspectives, due to its illustration of the implementation of practical tools and examples of practitioner/ client dialogue to show the potential in the therapeutic relationship for attainment of client recovery. It differs to many books on recovery by being practically focused with clarity and definition which makes it able to be practically applied to any setting and any reader. The strengths of the book are in its friendly style and the way it communicates and takes the reader stage by stage through the skills to effect positive change in the lives of clients who access mental health services. It provides measuring tools which can be used directly or adapted. This provides structure to augment the narratives which run through the body of the text. The book allows for the client to be the guide of the recovery process and features tools which explore the person’s narrative and uses this to promote and augment skills which promote sustainable social inclusion. The publication allows the reader to clearly identify where this form of intervention enhances and fits within the supervision process and its application to continuing professional development. The use of narrative and therapeutic dialogue is a benefit of this book and provides context to the theory, as well as inspiration to the reader be they practitioner or client. To summarise, the friendly, engaging writing style makes this a priority read and shows the journey of recovery as a positive and enriching one in terms of selfdevelopment of all involved.

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


Peer reviewed article

On Unbecoming a Counsellor Carole Waskett talks about the joys of dis-accreditation. Editor’s note: The compulsory registration and accreditation of counsellors and therapists is currently a ‘hot topic’ in the UK, and whilst there are umbrella organisations (BACP, UKCP) that provide widelyrecognised professional certification in these skills, there is no body designed to deal specifically with solution focused therapists. As a result the route toward the peak of accreditation for many solutioneers can be an arduous one, although it is a route that increasing numbers are taking as the UK government takes steps to introduce compulsory registration for therapists. With this in mind, the following tale by Carole Waskett of her journey in exactly the opposite direction may prove a comfort (or at least a good, solid reality check) for those on the accreditation treadmill.- Ed.

Between a rock and... This is a personal story. It’s neither research nor rhetoric; I’m not trying to persuade you of anything, and what I say about counselling is just my personal thinking from my own experience. Just a story. It would be good to know if anyone reading this is going through anything similar. Over the past few years I’ve made a slow but determined transition from counsellor to consultant/trainer and health service manager. In these days of furious political argument and activity around accreditation, with friends and colleagues struggling and sacrificing to be recognised as therapists, I’ve seen myself stepping inexorably away in the opposite direction. Finally, lately I resigned from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and handed back my long-held and treasured senior accredited status. Not without

a pang or two, I set about removing any references to that status from my website and publicity. After over twenty years of earning my living at it, I’m no longer a counsellor. I feel as if I’ve lost a skin, a familiar identity. And I feel free too, as if I can take big breaths of air and be who I really am at this stage of my professional life.

Counselling in Shifting Sands I worked hard for my counselling qualifications. I became accredited by BACP in 1993, and then did it again when I shifted to a solution focused approach in 1995, ultimately being accredited for 14 years and gaining that ‘senior accredited’ tag. I funded my own supervision in my own time, bought my own books, took my job seriously and for many

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

Carole Waskett is now happy to be the Clinical Supervision and Professional Support Facilitator for a Primary Care Trust in the UK National Health Service, working with and supporting health service professionals from all disciplines. She also continues to run her supervision, consultancy and training practice, www. northwestsolutions. co.uk. She uses a solution focused approach in everything she does, and currently serves on the UKASFP committee. Carole reads, writes, walks, and works on her allotment in her spare time.

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On Unbecoming a Counsellor

by Carole Waskett

years was deeply interested in my clients, both those within the NHS (National Health Service) and those who came privately.

Solution Focused thinking – feet on the ground?

But my recent change of heart has made me wonder. Perhaps it was never natural to me after all? Like many counsellors, I was probably drawn to the job because of my puzzlement about my own dysfunctional family and odd upbringing. Long slow years of long slow psychodynamic work earned me a living, but this steadily became more tedious as it dawned on me that the endless conversations were perhaps comforting – so said my clients - but didn’t seem to make much difference to their lives. And while my supervisor encouraged me to look for “the deeper meaning” in every word my clients uttered, I often felt they should be allowed to be shallow if they wanted, without my poking about in what they ‘meant’. And anyway, some of the possible interpretations seemed laughable.

When I learned about Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) in 1995, my practice and understanding of what I was doing changed for the better. SF people at least had their feet on the ground and a sense of proportion about their work. They seemed ordinary in the nicest possible way – and funny, and accepting of the messy reality of real human beings. They didn’t pretend to know anything about their clients. The whole approach was hugely refreshing, and my hope that this could rescue my professional identity was, for a time, fulfilled. I reaccredited with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy under the SF flag.

When I went to groups, training courses and conferences full of counsellors and therapists, I began to flinch at the concern in people’s eyes as they discussed their work. I stood on the sidelines of tentative, kind, ladylike conversations about ‘what was really going on’ or how much pain was ‘being denied’. I had a crude urge to shout rude words, or make loud opinionated WRONG statements while shrugging carelessly. I was ashamed to admit that I was totally fed up with the job, and all the endless words sickened me. People talked too much. I wanted to be anything but a counsellor – a plumber, a dog trainer, a gardener. I wanted the chance to be disreputable, blatant and outrageous. The upright and decent constraints of ‘behaving like a counsellor’ became rigid armour that began to crush me. I did not want to understand other people any more; I couldn’t even understand myself. It was too hard, and I doubted that it was even possible. Perhaps it wasn’t even useful, interesting or relevant. Working in my garden getting dirt under my nails seemed more genuine and real.

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Yet as time went on, the words ‘therapy’ and ‘counselling’ once again began to carry tension and a weight on my heart. Despite my supervisor’s focus on ‘what I’d done right’ and how helpful the conversations with clients ‘probably’ were, my discomfort grew. Over the years my own variety of experiences of therapy, apart from an excellent few sessions from a skilled SF practitioner, had been unhelpful and mostly frightening. The client role made me feel that I had far more problems, and had managed them far worse, than anyone else. I’m sure this began to feed into my growing sense that offering this service was painful and bad for my clients, and that I should not be doing it. In the end, something in me simply rebelled. I curled up like a woodlouse when the phone rang and yet another tear-soaked, nervous voice asked if I had any appointments free. It was obviously time to stop, for the sake of the clients and myself. Some in the therapy world say that 20 years’ service on the front line is about as long as anyone can give. I did rather more than that. I worked mainly in primary care, but also (counselling being the financially knifeedge occupation that it is) did private work, writing, freelance training and supervision. I seemed to be steeped in the therapy world; it had coloured my bones. How on earth was

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


On Unbecoming a Counsellor I to escape, and still earn a much-needed living? Ethical guidelines state that when we know we should not be counselling, we should stop. Whoever writes the guidelines evidently thinks that earning a living is a negligible issue. At this point I was in a full-time counselling job in one of the most deprived areas of the UK, as well as seeing private clients. I stumbled on, trying not to dislike it too much, and trying to think how I might get out. I felt sorry for my clients; they had to put up with me, and the frame of mind I was in.

Exploring the foothills “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery” said Jane Austen. The phrase slid home like a dagger between my ribs. I’d lost no faith in the process of counselling, when done well and respectfully. But it seemed to me that it was so often done badly, “dwelling on guilt and misery”. Thousands of well-meaning people were accepted onto counselling courses because they could pay, not because they might be able to do a good job. From the other end of the profession, I felt that I too was doing it badly. I was still convinced that the SF approach was as good as counselling conversations get, yet it was no longer something I could offer. But I knew I had learned something along the way, and I could still teach others and cheer them on. Yup, I said at last, go for it, you lot, but not me. Life is ludicrous, colourful, painful and comical, boring and sizzling and sweet. But taking it too seriously had never served me very well, as at last I was beginning to realise. Speaking personally, a stiff upper lip and a twinkle in the eye are probably my best defences. I was definitely in the wrong job. What else could I do? While I was still earning a living in counselling, it could be professional suicide to be too open about all this, and that necessary secrecy added to my discomfort. What was my preferred future? What was I already doing which worked for me? I knew I wanted to hold on to the rational, transparent and respectful approach to other people which was solution focused

by Carole Waskett thinking, without having to be a counsellor. And in tiny steps, chipped-out sparks of ideas from a hundred external and internal conversations, I found the beginnings of the answer. If I shifted my work area I could go on drawing on my counselling experience by expanding the field from intense one-to-one relationships to larger fields. The differences were not so great. My accreditation might buy me credibility until I established myself elsewhere. It was a risk, but I started to move. In the psychological services team I worked in, I was always curious about how ‘they’ ran the system. How could we do it better? How could we be more respectful to our clients while keeping our own boundaries clear? I wasn’t in a position to answer or control any of this, but I did realise that these were interesting management issues. SF was not used in management in any of the organisations where I worked, and because of my SF training I often had SF oriented conversations with managers which were clearly something new for them. Simply asking “what’s going well at present?” or “what do you most appreciate about your team?” seemed to be surprising questions for them. Eliciting and appreciating the strengths and expertise of staff and clients, rather than digging for problems and inadequacies, seemed a simple, different and effective way of having a conversation. We could introduce small changes and follow what worked, and managers picked up on what was useful to them; there was no need to hammer the nail to death. SF seemed to me to have boundless usefulness in this context. Then I daydreamed about what I really loved to do best in my working life. And it was supervision and teaching. It was the warmth and stimulation of working with a group of adults on their goals, showing them how a solution focused approach worked, finding out how they thought about things, and inviting them to have a go. As a supervisor, while I took boundaries and responsibilities seriously, I loved the collegiate sense of two people working together on something they were both engaged in. Was it ‘allowed’ to

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On Unbecoming a Counsellor

by Carole Waskett

teach ‘my’ subject without actually wanting to do it myself any more? Could I be a teacher and supporter of others? Was it possible to work behind the front lines without having to do it myself?

from ‘incompetent’ and it’s usually when I stray into imagining that I know stuff that I become incompetent. All I can be confident in is the solution focused approach and my respect and appreciation of others.

At last I got a different kind of job, teaching basic continuing professional development to staff in the health service. One of the incidental advantages was a hefty salary increase. And it was such a pleasure to teach intelligent, practical people like physiotherapists, occupational therapists, radiographers and nurses, who weren’t constantly ruminating about ‘meaning’. They were mostly young and committed to their professions. They made me laugh, we had fun, I learned a lot and got great feedback, and I began to feel excited about my work again.

As well, I maintain the private practice which has been a constant from the beginning of my career, though this has morphed from counselling and supervision into a consultancy, supervision and training practice. It’s deeply gratifying to be invited to teach people in a wide and fascinating variety of contexts, and help them to recognise their strengths and develop them into systems, processes and practices which work. At last I don’t have to be a counsellor any more; there are many other ways to use SF.

Hill walking Nowadays I’ve moved on yet again, to an unusual part-time post in the NHS, in which I’m tasked to set up and maintain a clinical supervision scheme for colleagues, as well as offering lots of ad hoc professional support, team building and other forms of facilitation to individuals and teams. SF can be used to help professionals to do an even better job for their clients, take care of each other, and feel delighted with their daily work. Though it often stretches me almost beyond my capacity, and I make many mistakes, this work feels like a privilege. The SF approach, together with an SF supervisor, enables me to trust the model and remain non-expert in the face of all these expert people.

I remind myself always to respect the gift that is the solution focused approach. It’s like a finely made yet strong compass, which points reassuringly north. When I sit with a learning group and notice the buzz of our enjoyment together, I finger that carefully calibrated compass in my pocket, and say thank you again to those talented craftsmen who made it. We can walk in whichever direction we like, after all. And I’m grateful that because of the solution focused approach and its effect on my life, I’ve been able to walk away from counselling, towards different hills.

This is simple, but not easy. In the health service as in most large organisations, there is a strong drive towards ‘expertise’. All management tools push staff towards pinning down their abilities and knowledge, collecting evidence for them, capitalising on them, and amassing more. As a manager it’s not easy to get away with ‘not knowing’. As a teacher my teaching of the ‘non-expert’ stance is often questioned, sometimes quite aggressively. But ‘non-expert’ is far

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Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


Peer reviewed article

Family First Service - Finding Solutions Together Peter Lewer talks about his mission to (apparently) make virtually every public servant in the South of England solution focused. Background

communities in which they lived.

The ‘Families First - Finding Solutions Together’ multiagency service was devised and developed following a conversation with a family centre team leader who identified that her service could not meet the level of referrals and the demands of the local ‘children and families duty service’.

All referrals from the pilot project were received from the Duty and Initial Assessment Team of the Children and Families and Education Department. Due to the service being a pilot it was decided that the project would be evaluated to examine its success and outcomes, before accepting referrals from other agencies.

The initial pilot project consisted of a team of educational psychologists, social workers, social work assistants, primary care mental health workers, a project manager and me (as clinical consultant/trainer). I devised and developed the model of intervention and provided training and on-going supervision/consultation. All of these professionals had had experience of working with children and families where the children displayed challenging behaviour, and whose relationships were at risk of breakdown, which may have resulted in them becoming ‘looked after’ children, being excluded from school or becoming involved in criminal activity. It was felt that an opportunity existed to develop a new service that could offer a solution focused approach to enable families to find their own solutions in meeting the needs of their family members and the

Model of Service The pilot began was conducted over five weeks February to March 2006. The contacts were conducted on one afternoon per week and each session lasted for fifty minutes and consisted of two team members (from different disciplines) working jointly with each family. A solution focused approach was used with parents, carers and children, all of whom were expected to attend three weekly sessions. Where appropriate, other relevant adults in the wider family network or community could be included in order to promote successful solutions. Each week up to six families were able to access the service. Throughout the sessions, families identified their own tasks, which provided a framework of solutions for them to implement between sessions.

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

Peter Lewer works as a therapist, parenting advisor, consultant, lecturer and freelance trainer. He lives by the sea with his wife and three children and enjoys writing, reading, walking, comedy, film, local history and golf. Since 1998 he has been developing his love for and approach to Solution Focused Therapy, and acknowledges the wonderful influence this has had on his life, career and peace of mind.’ He can be contacted at Plewer@tiscali. co.uk

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Family First Service - Finding Solutions Together At the completion of the final session, families were given the opportunity to celebrate their success. The strength of this model was the shared belief held by the professionals that all individuals are talented, skilful and resourceful. Each member of the team was able to obtain this shared belief by a process of training and on-going supervision in the model, which places this belief as paramount. Through the use of solution focused curious questions and careful listening for exceptions, and an absolute certainty that change would occur, even if unrecognised at first, team members were able to communicate this belief to the families. Recognising achievements and a ‘what works’ approach were encouraged within the sessions and as homework tasks, with an emphasis on a ‘try something different’ approach to potentially stuck situations.

Immediate Outcomes of the Pilot Each individual family member was asked to complete an evaluation form, which not only helped to acknowledge their achievements but also provided the team with important statistical data for evaluation of outcomes to inform service development. Three key themes emerged from the feedback: 1. Positive changes within their family: All families reported positive changes in their relationships with one another, and said that that the experience had helped them ‘validate’ each other. This seemed to translate into practical improvements too. For example, one parent commented that there had been a big improvement and change in her daughter’s behaviour, both within the home and at school. 2. Empowerment: Families commented that the service had allowed them to talk to one another and understand each other’s points of view and they were able to transfer these identified communication skills to their home and their relationships. Several families also acknowledged that the service

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by Peter Lewer

had enabled them to feel empowered as a unit and to look at their own solutions for all the individuals within the family. One parent commented that the service had made them realise just how close and ‘in tune’ they were as a family. 3. Recognition and Celebration: A common theme throughout the evaluation was that families felt that their strengths were recognised and celebrated throughout the sessions. The solution focused approach helped families to move from a ‘stuck’ and ‘blaming’ position, to one where they were able to recognise their own skills and talents and their preferred futures. One parent commented “me and [child], rarely physically fight as often as we did”, and another stated that she had welcomed “being praised as a mum” as she had never experienced this from the agencies that were involved with her family before. Importantly, most of the attending family members had written that they had enjoyed the process of the intervention.

Three-Month Family Outcomes: A follow-up evaluation of family circumstances was completed three months after the pilot finished. At this point the following themes emerged: • Reduction in re-referrals to the duty and assessment team • No increase in ‘looked after children’ rates • Reduction in children whom names were on the child protection register as a result of progress made through attending sessions • Improvement in behaviour at school and at home • Integration rather than assimilation • Increased inclusions • Improved family relationships

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Family First Service - Finding Solutions Together • Reduction in criminal activity • Greater access to sign posted services • Early identification of children for whom intervention by statutory agencies is required

Team Outcomes: Following the pilot project the team members also completed an evaluation form. The following themes emerged:

by Peter Lewer

effective and enabled families to experience and celebrate positive change. It was also recognised that fundamental changes in inter-agency working relationships were emerging and that this benefit was positively enhancing working relationships beyond this model. It was agreed that all involved would continue to develop this model and that referrals would be opened up to all agencies involved and that recruitment of further professionals from a range of agencies would be actively encouraged.

• The value of collaborative working

A Developing Model

• Empowerment of workers and increased motivation

The ‘Families First’ service places responsibility for change on the families and this approach communicates to families that the agencies believe in them as talented, resourceful and skilled individuals. Families and individuals who are given the opportunity to recognise and accept their talents, skills and resources often adopt a new narrative about themselves and their potential, therefore allowing for positive change to be further achieved and maintained. This basic yet fundamental concept underpins the ‘Families First’ model and requires each worker, often, to take a leap of faith. As professionals our training and societal influences result in us having a tendency to focus on problems and weaknesses and believe that individuals or even families do not have the answers or solutions. We may have feelings of being unhelpful or perhaps of no use, when we too do not or can not, due to organisational restrictions, have the solutions. The ‘Families First’ model, as a solution focused approach, challenges this tendency and encourages families and individuals to accept their capabilities and responsibility for positive change, and raises confidence and self-esteem by celebrating achievements. This approach also frees the professional from feeling responsible for change.

• Providing a common working framework and greater understanding of roles and expertise • Ongoing and continued learning • Ownership and accountability of the process • SMART criteria was applied • Timely intervention • Sustainability • Enabled sign posting to other service • Encouraged agencies to build links with one another • Identified gaps and unmet needs throughout area • Supervision and developing new skills through ongoing training • Partnership working • Joint planning • Integration of services • Meeting the outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda

A Continuation of Success Following the small pilot it was apparent that there was a need for continuing this service. It was evident that the service was

In developing this service it has become evident that it is important for each professional to undergo the ‘Families First’ initial training programme before working on the programme, so as to ensure a shared

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

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Family First Service - Finding Solutions Together understanding of the philosophy and model. This has also resulted in ‘Families First’ members feeling part of a ‘virtual team’, and gaining value from their inclusion in this successful service. The pilot experience has heavily informed the development of the service. Whereas during the pilot three families were being seen by each pair of workers, it was has since been considered that this is too intense and does not allow for enough time for workers to reflect and to benefit from the live supervision now on offer. Now, each pair of workers sees two families over a three hour period, and supervision is provided following each family session, as well as group supervision involving all four workers being offered at the end of the afternoon to provide reflective learning and encourage sharing of experiences. The pilot experience has also informed the evaluation process and the service has adopted the UK government department of health’s ‘Strengths and Difficulties’ questionnaires to provide changefocused evaluation over a longer time frame. A scaling questionnaire is also now administered at each session to identify individual experiences and explore sessionto-session change. Details of each session are recorded and provided to the referrer (for health and safety reasons we do not currently accept self-referrals). The family may need further support beyond these sessions, and in order to do this effectively we need to share the families’ successes and identify what other support they may need. The service adopts a belief that change is only ever achieved by family members, no matter what ‘magic’ interventions agencies may offer, and therefore any hope of future success will need to be supported by promoting hope in the family’s strengths. What has been achieved is considered a better measure of what may further be achieved, and so reporting this rather than just reporting the failures or difficulties the family may be experiencing is key for us. Our approach promotes the families as talented, skilful and resourceful

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by Peter Lewer

and continuously communicates that belief to them. In line with this it is also important for us to provide families with opportunities to identify how future support can assist them with change, as opposed to ‘doing to them’ what is considered to be ‘needed’.

Current Success The model has been well received and is being adopted by services within the local geographic area, with wider interest having been shown across the county. Further training has been planned, with thirty professionals being trained later this month in another district so that they can set up the ‘Families First’ model there. Interest in adopting the programme has also been expressed by services in other counties in England and training has already begun for education behavioural personnel in one other county, where they plan to offer this model in conjunction with their other services. Following the pilot more agencies and individual workers have requested to join the service. Training has been offered to other staff from the original agencies and also to school nurses. This has resulted in a larger pool of workers who can offer session time. Due to this larger pool of workers, the service will soon be extended to run for a whole day each week, which will result in eight families being seen per week. Additional accommodation is being arranged to also provide the service within rural areas, so that more families can benefit. Further initial training will be offered shortly to new workers, and those already trained have requested advanced training that I am currently devising and will be providing shortly.

Reflections on Success This initial service was set up and was already running in just over a month, from the original request to the first families being seen. Having to set up a service in such a short time-frame is not ideal and as a result the service has needed development since,

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


Family First Service - Finding Solutions Together but this does demonstrate what can be achieved and what is possible if we believe in individuals and their resources. Many of the professionals that I trained to be part of the initial service I had never met before, but from the outset I assumed that they would be talented, skilful and resourceful, and they have proved to be extremely so. As with clients, I communicated my belief in them from the first, and they (courageously perhaps) believed in me and what I wanted us to achieve. We did not require ideal

by Peter Lewer

surroundings, or ideal time to reflect and plan before starting the service, we required adequate surroundings and time. I suspect that this mirrors the experiences of the families we have seen, who also do not live with ideals. However, like them, our futures are filled with untold possibilities, and as a group of professionals we have taken a concept and created together a better future for us and many of the families we are fortunate to work with.

REVIEWING BOOKS Let us know what you think of a book... Solution News has a number of books available for members to review. If you would like to review one of the books below, or another book, please contact books@solution-news.co.uk. Books currently available: • Directive Family Therapy by Jay Haley • More Than Miracles by Steve de Shazer et al • Solution Focused Stress Counselling by Bill O’Connell • The Solution Focus by Mark McKergow and Paul Z. Jackson • Solution Focused Therapy by Alasdair MacDonald • Solutions Focus Working by Mark McKergow & Jenny Clarke

USEFUL WEB-LINKS Download past (and present, and future) issues of Solution News (and coming soon, podcast versions) at www.solution-news.co.uk UKASFP web-site and national email discussion group is at www.ukasfp.co.uk European Brief Therapy Association web site is at www.ebta.nu The SFT-L international discussion list is at http://www.lsoft.com/scripts/wl.exe?SL1=SFT-L&H=LISTSERV.ICORS.ORG SOLUTIONS-L is an international discussion list for those using a solution focused approach with organisations. It’s at: http://www.solworld.org/index.cfm?id=5 The Brief Family Therapy Center (Milwaukee, US) website is at www.brief-therapy.org

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“IT’S THE GNU STYLE”!

Many readers have asked us how on earth we came to be consulting rather smelly African beasties on the subtle workings of solution focused practice. In fact this is a result of our rather disorganised approach to producing our early issues, which meant that some bloke I met at the bus-stop was drafted in to do our personnel recruiting. A few typos and a badly coffee-stained, poorly-checked, recruitment advertising submission later, we found that the applicants for our post of corresponding ‘solution guru’ were somehat more hairy and quadrupedal than we had anticipated. Their answers seemed to be ok though, so we figured we’d go with it. Here’s what they’ve been contemplating this month: Dear Gnus, I’ve been trying to get to the essence of SFBT, and I was wondering whether ‘doing what works’ is enough to desrcibe what it’s all about, or whether solution focused work is something more than that, and if so, what? After all, lots of people do what works, but they aren’t all doing SFBT! What do you think? Evan George gnu. He said: If we take seriously the common factors findings then almost, in terms of technique, anything and everything ‘works’. So you are quite right that ‘doing more of what works’ could involve doing anything - not a good enough way to describe a model. In fact the phrase has been almost as confusing and unhelpful within the approach as another slogan ‘the client is the expert’ which has led people to the assumption not only that service-users can be trusted to know what they want and the best way to get there, but also that they know what to talk about in therapy and therefore that we should follow service-users in any preferences that they have for the conversation. So how else can we describe solution focused brief therapy? Well, one way would be as a conversational process within which we move with the service-user out of problem-talk and into solution-talk at the fastest pace that the serviceuser confidently and comfortably can. And in order to facilitate this process the approach has developed a range of conversational resources, questions, that aid that shift - ways of detailing the preferred future, eliciting what the service-user is doing that is useful, highlighting progress and noticing and naming the service-user’s resources. Given that the approach also has embedded within it certain prejudices, most notably a bias towards minimalism and brevity, the model has developed a characteristic conversation structure that allows for this:

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Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


• What are your best hopes for this conversation? • How will you know that these ‘best hopes’ are happening? • What are you already doing that is moving in this direction? • Watch out for tiny signs of progress. • Follow-up conversations merely substitute the question ‘and what is better since we last met?’ for the enquiry about the service-user’s best hopes. These structures of course work when they do and have to be adapted when they do not. So your suspicion that a solution focus is more than merely ‘doing what works’ is correct. Interestingly Steve de Shazer in ‘Putting Difference to Work’ said ‘Therapy needs to be described in such a way that therapists understand what to do and how to do it.’ ‘Doing what works’ might allow us to do anything!

Dear Gnus, some counsellors suggest that the client needs to ‘trust’ them before real change can take place, and yet in solution focused working you’re trying to change things in the first session. Surely no-one could be expected to ‘trust’ the complete stranger asking weird questions of them so quickly! So my question is, what is this all about? Is ‘trust’ (or something like it) needed for the solution focused approach to work, and if so how would the worker know if it (whatever it is) was present? Dave Hawkes gnu. He responded: Well I have puzzled over this too. I think that the notion that trust is something that only comes after a long time in someones company is interesting. To put the question another way how do “counsellors” build trust with clients? The questioner seems to hold the important idea that trust must be earned... so how is trust earned? It is not mere time in someones presence that earns trust ...it is what the client and “counsellor” do. I would suggest it is by enacting and showing respect, by listening to what the person wants and what they want to be different, and tracking this carefully and staying focused respectfully on what the person wants to change. In short by “doing” their therapy with clients.... by doing something. So perhaps trust is earned by doing something? In SFT the thing that the therapist does is SFT so you build trust by asking the weird questions , questions that put the client at the centre of the process, asking about the future asking abiout their strengths and abilities and exceptions, times when they surprised themselves etc... listening to what they want and respecting their individual ideas of a preferred future... then looking at how to move towards it. It is a bit of a chicken and egg question but I would say that trust is built in SFT by doing it , by asking the question. Time alone will not build trust per se, listening may not do it by itself either? I agree that the weird question has to start where the client starts and go where

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they want to go... if this is indeed the case then the thing called trust will develop through doing the therapy. Given that I work with people who it is suggested have “severe mental health issues” and “delusional ideas” or “paranoia” and by definition we could expect to have trust problems we have found that that therapy in acute and in patient settings is still possible using this approach. The questions build the trust. I would also suggest that the idea the therapist is “trying to do” something in one session puts too much power with the therapist. SFT is brief by outcome not design. The one session mantra would indeed suggest SFT is trying to do something to people rather than join them in doing something they want to do for themselves. If the approach is used in this rather top down technique-driven way then trust is likely to be the first casualty. But I would suggest that SFT is not trying to change things in a first session (that may be a pleasing side-effect but is not an aim) in fact it is not clear that the SFT pratitioner is trying to do anything other than host a conversation that may allow the client to change things. To get out of their own way, as Erickson would have put it. So there is no pressure that change should occur in one session (as de Shazer used to say change happens between sessions anyway not in the room itself, it is outside that people try things and experiment, hit on new ways of doing things and notice ways of doing things that help). It is in-between sessions that change takes place. So my rather long preamble would come down to two suggestions: Trust can be built through asking the weird questions and the therapist and client knows this is the case if the therapy is helpful and if the client says it has helped. Waiting for trust to develop first through getting to know you questions and just more time spent togeather does not necessarily mean that trust will occur.... more therapy may not mean more trust. In many cases looking for trust to be there before therapy can begin will mean that you never get started especially with people who have little reason to trust therapists or counsellors! Trust is earned rather than a given and it is earned by doing this stuff. The idea that language is to humans what water is to fish springs to mind. SFT is what we do. Hosting a conversation about change that matters to the client and helps them to change what they want to change will build trust. As to what this mysterious trust is, that may be another interesting GNU question.

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Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


MEMBER NEWS This section is for members to let people know about what they’ve been up to or is happening for them, and for requests for help. If you have an announcement, please post it to: news@solution-news.co.uk.

Mark McKergow and Jenny Clarke have set up sfwork - The Centre for Solutions Focus at Work. Based in Cheltenham, UK, they are working worldwide to expand the reach of SF in the workplace. The Centre is building on experience and practice to develop new ways to do things at work. They are developing practical positive approaches to the everyday activity of work - including coaching, evaluation, project management, appraisal, strategic planning and more. They are also continuing to offer the SF Professional certificate programme - a six-day project based programme for managers, coaches and consultants wishing to expand their skills and know-how around SF in their own work.

✎ Peter Lehmann wanted to let everyone know that “at UTA in Arlington TX we have almost completed the first

year of an SFT certification program; the first one in the US. By beginning standards, it’s pretty successful and has developed a fair bit of interest from the community”.

✎ Gloucestershire Solutions is open to anyone in the area using SF approaches in their work - meets on the last Tuesday in the month at Winston’s Wish, Bath Road, Cheltenham. We plan to alternate presentations on specific topics with more general reflecting team discussions. The first meeting on Tuesday 27th November, 7.30pm - 9pm will be Danny Nugus and Rod Gay on ‘SFA and Waiting List Initiative’, followed by a trip to the pub. 26 February 2008 we welcome Mark McKergow to talk about ‘SFA in the workplace’. For more details contact Danny Nugus at DNugus@winstonswish.org.uk or 07789 365603.

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007

Paul Jackson wanted to let people know about a twoday intensive workshop for managers, coaches and all those wishing to enhance their coaching skills that he is runnng with Janine Waldman NEXT WEEKEND in London. More details and booking: http://www. thesolutionsfocus.co.uk/ open_courses.html

✎ Signs of Safety approach to child protection practice: Andrew Turnell will present a one-day workshop in London March 17 2008. More information by email from info@in-trac.co.uk or at www.signsofsafety.net

✎ John Wheeler says: “Plans for the first World Solution Focused Conference in Aruba on 10 - 12 April 2008 are coming together. At this point in time the following presenters plan to make contributions: Allan Wade

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MORE MEMBER NEWS (Canada) about his work with victims of violent crimes; Svea van der Hoorn (South Africa) about her work with refugee families in Africa; Sara Smock & Johnny Kim (USA) Empirical Support for SFBT as an Evidence based model; Janet Bavelas (Canada) & Arnoud Huibers (The Netherlands) Micro analysis and SFBT - a tribute to Steve & Insoo; Sara Healing (Canada) about evidence based research’; Wei-Sy Hsu, Tu-Fen Chen, So-Tyan Melody Sun, Chao Tunan Wu,& Hui-Chun Cheng (Taiwan) Solution Focused Real Time web counseling with Taiwanese College students; Stephen Langer (US) Solution Focused Trauna Counselling in the Middle East and Africa; Fredrike Bannink (The Netherlands) & Chris Pams (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles) Solution Focused Mediation.; Paul Hackett (UK), and John Wheeler (UK) See www. solutions-centre.org or contact John Wheeler on John@JohnWheeler.co.uk for more information.

Member Vicky Bliss wanted to spread the word about her introductory training day in SFBT in Lancashire on 15th November: “Particularly applicable to people who want an alternative to problem-focused help for their difficulties. Bring your current therapist, social worker, probation officer, psychologist or whomever if you can!” The fee is £50 including lunch,limited places! More details at www.missinglinksupports ervice.co.uk or from Vicky clarks@globalnet.co.uk.

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Our friends at Haworth Press are really pleased to be the publisher for the new book by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg as well as other giants in the field of SFBT, ‘More than miracles’. A link to the book flyer is here, and the book is available from Amazon and direct from Haworth Press www. haworthpress.com. Haworth have also recently published ‘Directive Family Therapy’, Jay Haley’s final book.

✎ NEXT ISSUE: Vicky and Genevieve Edmonds’s book “A SelfDetermined Future with Asperger Syndrome: A Solution Focused Approach” has also now been published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers - details here: http://www.jkp. com/catalogue/book.php/ isbn/9781843105138

Articles based on research conducted as part of the University of Birmingham (UK) MA in SFBT. Free guest editor included!

Solution News • volume 3 issue 1 • October 2007


Solution News 3.1 October 2007