Solution Focus Process: Solution Talk vs. Problem Talk Pt I

Solution Talk vs. Problem Talk

Problem talk, of course, is talk about the problem. Solution Focus direct communications to talk about solutions. It does not try to overcome resistance to change, but rather, find where the change is already occurring in the system and accentuating it.

In Solution Focus, we listen to the details communicated about the problem. This is important because it gives us pertinent glimpses into the helpee's world and their perception of what is happening in their world. But regardless of how they perceive their circumstance, there are positive aspects of their lives that continue to exist. There are areas that are working and it is these areas where they are refocused to and encouraged to build upon. Solution Focus concentrates on the positive aspect to help them create changes. Remember, each individual is the expert of their own life. Helpers always retain a "not knowing" stance. Individuals and families have the ability to generate change and have made changes in the past. Solution Focus interaction seeks to uncover these past successes and solutions. The helper's task is to get information about the perceived problem, about "what went well" and how it happened.

It helps others identify their own strengths and resources and utilize them toward achieving their relevant goals. This non-blaming way of thinking shifts the focus away from what is wrong in people to what is strong in people and their competence rather than their deficits. There is less focus on "problems" and more focus on empowerment, strengths and exceptions to those problems in order to promote solutions. Rather than dwelling on the past and engaging in lengthy "problem talk" about mistakes, weaknesses and causes, the focus is on what worked before and what clients want, what their goals are and which solutions can help them achieve those goals.

Questioning Interaction

"Exceptions" are those occasions in the helpee's life when the problem could have occurred but did not. For example: a mother and daughter complain of getting into arguments almost every day. The helper asks for a description of those times when they are not arguing and seem to be getting along well with each other: "When you are not arguing how are things different?" Or, "when you are not arguing what is occurring instead? How do you think that can be made to occur more often?" Those times when Mother and daughter are not arguing are "successes." We help helpees' transfer this ability from one situation to another. This is powerful! Many people are so blinded by what they perceive as problems that they cannot appreciate those times (and there are usually many) when the problem is not happening. In the example above, the keyword is "almost." They do not argue "every" day. Nothing occurs all the time. Solution Focus deals with those times when the problematic situation is not happening.

Miracle Questions. Miracle questions make inquiry into the helpees' frame of reference regarding their perception of what a miracle would mean to them in their life situation. It provides the helper with insight and forces the helpee to focus on the positive. In the above example, miracle questions would ask: "if a miracle occurred tonight and when you woke up the problem was solved, what would you notice first to tell you something was different? When have you noticed small indications of that difference already happening? Who would have to do what to make that happen? When will you know the problem is solved?" Helping using miracle questions is a wonderful approach because it creates a vivid image of what life will be like when the problem is solved. It also creates hope that life can be different from what it is now. You can be as creative as desire in using this approach. Some people use, magic wand, crystal ball, three wishes and so forth. The main idea is to focus the helpee on imagining what their life looks like without the problem and what small signs already exist toward making that life a reality.

(continued in Pt 2)

Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. http://www.clergyservices4u.org She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: A Grief Healing Workbook, will be available soon.

In The News:

Why Psychology Matters  Psychology Today
The Psychology of Baking  Majorca Daily Bulletin
Let Us Breathe (by King Joel)  Psychology Today
How Yoga Improves Body Image  Psychology Today
Using psychology to boost mental health  People Management Magazine
What You Watch Matters  Psychology Today
Who Was the First Therapy Dog?  Psychology Today

You, I and We

Our life in society hovers around the concept of 'You?I?... Read More

The Mind, Information, and Attitude

Information is flowing to us at a great rate. The... Read More

Metaphors of the Mind (Part I)

The brain (and, by implication, the Mind) has been compared... Read More

The Essence of Being Human

What does it mean to be Human? Well if you... Read More

Split Personality - A Myth or a Reality?

IntroductionIn this world today, there are a lot of unbelievable... Read More

Four Cognitive Skills for Successful Learning

The word "cognition" is defined as "the act of knowing"... Read More

Get Out of Jail Free: Stop Being Defensive

When Marcus and Sally first met they immediately felt like... Read More

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) At a Glance

Most narcissists (75%) are men.NPD is one of a "family"... Read More

Kleptomaniac Confessions

Ever felt urged to steal a piece of bubblegum from... Read More

Biometrics

ABSTRACTBiometric identification refers to identifying an individual based on his/her... Read More

Animal to Animal Telepathy

There has been much study on Telepathy in the animal... Read More

Key Solution Focus Interviewing Skills

There are several key Solution Focus interviewing skills that are... Read More

Why Does It Seem That There Are More Children With ADHD Than Ever Before?

Even though the percentage of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity... Read More

Panic Attacks: Effective Ways to Cope

Jill is a 21 y/o college student who used to... Read More

An Easy Cure For Math Phobia

Why is it that one person enjoys math, while another... Read More

Anti-Social Behaviors and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Anti-social behaviors are common with ADHD individuals. About 60% of... Read More

Hypnotic Myths

Even though hypnosis has been around officially since the 1700s... Read More

How Big of a Problem is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - "ADD" or "ADHD" - affects... Read More

The Offspring of Aeolus - On the Incest Taboo

Incest is not such a clear-cut matter as it has... Read More

Are Observations Objective?

On the outset all observations may seem to be objective,... Read More

Right Brain, Left Brain

The right brain controls the left side of the body... Read More

Metaphors of the Mind (Part II)

Storytelling has been with us since the days of campfire... Read More

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Tips

FIVE DON'T DO'SHow to Avoid the Wrath of the NarcissistNever... Read More

Kids and Lifebooks: Tips for Social Workers

Every child who is adopted from foster care deserves a... Read More

Serial Killers

Countess Erszebet Bathory was a breathtakingly beautiful, unusually well-educated woman,... Read More