What are solution-focused conversations?

Solution-focused conversations are a form of ‘talking therapy’, with a difference

Solution-focused conversations are conversations between a trained solution-focused practitioner and anyone seeking their help (referred to here as ‘the client’), that focus on what the client wants for themselves or their life, rather than exploring the problems of the past. This does not mean that the client cannot talk about these things, just that the solution-focused practitioner will not routinely ask about them. In this way, solution-focused conversations differ from other forms of therapy where it may be standard practice for therapists to ask for lots of information about the client’s past or problems in order to assess the client before they start the therapy.

…in which the practitioner/therapist asks questions that are intended to be useful to the client…

Solution-focused practitioners do ask questions, though!   In fact, the approach is based on the idea that the questions the therapist asks the client are useful in their own right, as a way of helping the client think and talk about things differently.  These questions can often feel slightly strange or difficult to answer (though they should never feel intrusive), perhaps because they are questions that clients have never been asked or have never asked themselves before.  It is the process of thinking about the questions and finding their own answer that is intended to be useful to the client.

…by inviting them to explore their own hopes, resources and skills

So, solution-focused practitioners ask their clients questions about how they’d like things to be different, about times in their life when things have been better for them, and about their own values, strengths, resources and coping strategies.

…and helping them to find their own way towards the changes they want to see

In this way, solution-focused conversations can help people to be clearer not only about where they’d like to get to in their life, but also to recognise where they are already succeeding, even if only in a small way, despite the difficulties they are experiencing. This in turn can put them in touch with the resources and qualities they have, and this can help them begin to move closer to the life that they want.

…without advising them or telling them what to do, but trusting the expertise they bring.

Solution-focused conversations are designed to be a collaboration between the client and therapist, centred on the idea that the client is the expert in their own life, hopes and dreams, while the therapist has expertise in carefully asking questions that are useful to the client.  A solution-focused practitioner recognises and welcomes the client’s expertise as an essential ingredient in the partnership.