In any treatment – psychological or medical – the practitioner’s demeanour is a vital contributor to ‘successful’ therapeutic outcome. There are obvious aspects to this, like being able to empathise, rapport-building and the ability to put the client at their ease. It is less obvious that the practitioner’s attitudes, and beliefs about themselves, are as important.
In the eyes of the client these influence practitioner credibility, confidence and sincerity, and in turn, the therapeutic relationship. For the Solution-Focused practitioner, these factors are taken as givens, and then there a few more distinguishing aspects.
Solution-Focused practice is a client-led, unfolding, and conversational process. Through the use of creative questions, the client is helped to move towards their ‘preferred future’, discovering and drawing on their existing skills and resources.
Who is the expert?
The Solution-Focused practitioner always assumes that the client is an expert in his or her own life. The therapist has expertise in the (SF) approach, but must not diagnose, jump to conclusions, make judgments or categorise the client.
In a collaborative process, client and practitioner gradually co-create new strategies and develop ideas as to what can be done differently by the client, what they can do more of to consolidate the process of positive change.
In the with the SF ethos, the solution-focused practitioner works assiduously to ‘do something that makes a difference today’. Right from the first, the client should leave each session feeling better than when they arrived. This is actually simpler than it sounds in many cases, because of the combined effects of being able to tell their story, problem-free talk, expectation, future orientation and the rest are naturally uplifting.
Simple, but not easy
While the principles of Solution Focused practice are simply explained, In practice it is more difficult. Unlike some approaches, the practitioner must work as hard as the client using curiosity, exploration and creativity in enabling the client to disci=over their own ‘solutions’.