Solution-focused thinking is a mindset about looking forward, with an open mind, towards the possibilities offered by the future. It is a valuable mindset, particularly for problem-solving.
As it is often the quest for a solution to a problem or a decision that triggers overthinking, solution-focused thinking encourages you to ‘do something different’ by considering possibilities you may not have thought about before.
Since solutions can only exist in the future, thinking in a solution-focused way also means that you’ll be looking forward to possibilities, rather than getting stuck in overthinking.
Our regular thinking style is governed by our upbringing and our conditioning, but more importantly by our instinct for survival. The default mode is to look for risk, threat, problems and weaknesses. Being solution-focused involves overcoming this sensible and natural way of going about things, and asking “What if…?”
When you understand about solution-focused thinking and how it can benefit conversations and relationships, discussions that were once chores can become delightful journeys of exploration. If you think that’s a bit strong – a sales pitch even – well, I suppose you could be right.
Insofar as I think that working in a solution-focused way is liberating, energising and exciting, I probably sound like an evangelist. This is precisely why I don’t talk about it too often (unless I’m running a training event).
Solution Focused practitioners often talk about ‘being solution-focused’. This goes to the heart of the matter. When you embrace it, solution-focused thinking is something you do for yourself, not something you do TO others.
About Solution-Focused Thinking
The term Solution-Focused is widely used, but it is often used without really understand the meaning of the term Solution-Focused approach, what it means or why it is so valuable.
Maybe your job is formally recognised as part of the helping professions because it involves supporting people (HR, social work, counselling, psychiatry for example).
Or perhaps you work or volunteer in a wider group which includes roles like advocacy, charity and aid work, the law, mediation, medicine, occupational health, probation, physiotherapy, social work, teaching, and many others.
Your primary role is not seen as caring or support, but your daily routine inevitably involves helping people in crisis or distress. You are one of many ‘informal helpers’ who use the same skills as the first group – essentially these are the skills of counselling – yet you have had little or no training to develop their helping skills.
Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is an approach to conversations that empowers both helpers and those they help. The approach brings with it a wealth of easily learned and adaptable techniques which will enhance the skills of any capable person, whatever the setting.