Solution Focused Approaches
Solution Focused Questions utilize a competency-based model, which minimizes emphasis on past failings and problems, and instead focuses on clients’ strengths and previous successes. There is a focus on working from the client’s understandings of their situation and what the client might want different.
PAST SUCCESS QUESTION
PREFERRED FUTURE QUESTION
A few ways in which the question can be posed are:
Examples of Platform Questions are:
EXCEPTION SEEKING QUESTION
An example of how exception-seeking questions may be asked is:
WHAT IS BETTER QUESTION
Asking the simple question "What's better?" as opposed to something more traditional like, "Did any interesting things happen since our last conversation?" Can feel a bit odd to some professionals. However, it can often be at least equally, or more effective, than the traditional approach. The what-is-better-question is mainly asked in follow-up sessions (second and later sessions) with clients. The advantage of this type of' question is that it helps the client to focus on which progress has been made in the past period. It also helps to identify and examine what has worked well. This can often have a motivating effect, which leads to improved awareness of what works, as well as useful ideas about next steps.
An important element of the 'What's better?' question technique is that you repeat it often ("What else is better?"). Usually you don't just ask it 1, 2, or 3 times, but rather 6, 7, or 8 times. The surprising thing often is that the client indeed manages to mention as many examples as they are asked for (encouragement by the coach is important of course). Also, professionals are often surprised to find out that sometimes the most interesting or important examples of what's better are not the first or the second ones that are mentioned. Sometimes, already 6 examples have been mentioned and then, suddenly, the client mentions a very important improvement, also to his or her own surprise (”Wow, I forgot that has happened but it is actually really important.")
At the beginning, of conversations questions like these can be used:
During the conversation, questions like these can be used:
At the end of the conversation, questions like these can be used:
Asking usefulness questions provides some clarity about what clients want to come out of a conversation. By reflecting on the question, they will consider their goals and connect the conversation to those goals.
PERSPECTIVE CHANGE QUESTION
Many professionals find it helpful to use coping questions when clients are experiencing a challenging time and can hardly find the motivation to do anything about their situation. A coping question is often used in combination with a scaling question when a client says that they are at a zero on a particular scale (see the scaling question). The basic theme of the question is: “How do you manage to keep going?” There are many other ways of phrasing coping questions, however, including:
The coping question can help people in difficult situations to find new energy to continue dealing with their problems. Using this technique helps clients to recognize that they are in fact managing their situation, at least to some extent. This helps them to see that they are still able to do some things well and that their desire to be successful has not faded completely. By exploring how they do cope, clients can become more aware of what specifically keeps them going.
The optimism question helps clients to identify reasons for optimism. Here are some ways of asking this question:
Solution Focused Techniques
Solution Focused Techniques use a realistic, goal-driven approach, with emphasis on clear, concise, realistic goal identification that assumes all clients have some level of knowledge of what would make life better, and that anyone seeking help already possesses the minimal skills necessary to create solutions for themselves.
Statement: "You're trying to change me into something YOU want."
Reframe: "What if we worked on your changing to something that your children want."
Statement: "This whole thing is just such a mess."
Reframe: "Would it be OK to call it a challenge instead of a mess? Any challenge can be overcome.
Statement: "I've never been in a situation like this before. I don't know what to do."
Reframe: "You and your family have everything you need to deal with this situation right now."
SUMMARIZE CLIENT'S WORDS
A technique used by many professionals is to summarize what clients have said while using their own choice of words, or, "language matching". Some benefits to this approach are that the client will feel taken seriously. Also, it helps to give them some time to think about what more they should share. After a summary, it is often not even necessary for the professional to ask a question because clients already know how they would like to proceed.
Some important functions of progress-focused summaries are:
“In the next week or so, could you pay attention to situations in which things are a little better? When you notice that things seem better, pay close attention to what is different about that situation and to what you do differently? Also try to notice exactly what is different and what you do that helps so that we can discuss it the next time we meet.”
This task can be very effective for the client in helping them to be more conscious of the things that go right in their lives. This can have the effect of helping them to become more optimistic about their lives and to gain more confidence in how they are progressing.
Another description of the yes-set structure is that it consists of asking several questions where the answer is easy to say 'yes' to. Then the professional can add on a question at the end for which they really want the answer to be 'yes'.The minimum set is usually three questions. However, the professional also should not over-do this, so it is advisable to either space out the questions or limit the number. If necessary, the question can be hidden by burying it amongst other questions.
A few examples of such questions are: