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Exploring SF Philosophy and Practice
Steve de Shazer
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Exploring SF Philosophy and Practice

Stretching The World: A friendly explanation of SF practice (click to download)

Published as McKergow, M. (2020). Stretching The World: A friendly explanation of SF practice, in Solution Focused Practice Around The World, Kirsten Dierolf, Debbie Hogan, Svea Van Der Hoorn and Sukanya Wignaraja (editors), Routledge, 2020

Solution Focused (SF) practitioners have traditionally been encouraged to be suspicious ofexplanations. While this is completely justifiable in terms of explanations of clients’ circumstances, itis less useful when it comes to our own work and how we discuss it with others. This chapter presentsan innovative proposal that our work can be explained as ‘stretching the world of the client’. Recentmoves towards seeing SF in terms of building descriptions (rather than actions) clearly support this stance, which also fits well with the latest work on ‘SFBT 2.0’. Taking an enactive view of the client’sworld as an Umwelt, the combination of individual and all their interaction possibilities, helps us to see long-standing aspects of SF work in new ways. This position offers new and exploitable possibilities for practice development and research

Solution Focused work as an Aesthetic (click to download)
Published as McKergow, M. (2019). Solution Focused work as an Aesthetic. Journal of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Vol 3. No 1. pp 35-46.
The current paper looks at Solution Focused (SF) work in a novel way – as an aesthetic (what makes it beautiful?) as opposed to a method (how do you do it?). This term comes from the art world, where different schools of painting can be described as having different aesthetics. Starting with a definition of the term, I propose five elements of an SF aesthetic: brevity, client autonomy, radical acceptance, staying at the surface and valuing small differences. While these are not present in every piece of SF work, they are things that we strive for, qualities that bring me (at least) satisfaction, cheer and reasons to continue to support, promote and develop SF.

SFBT 2.0: The next generation of Solution Focused Practice has already arrived (click to download)

Published as McKergow, M. (2016) SFBT 2.0: The next generation of Solution Focused Practice has already arrived, Journal oof Solution Focused Brief Therapy 2, No 2, pp 1-17. 

This paper seeks to consolidate developments in Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) over the past decade.  I conclude that we have already seen the arrival of a kind of new form of SFBT, focused firmly on descriptions and even simpler in form that the original SFBT developed by Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg and colleagues. This new form is still definitely SFBT in terms of the priorities and focus of the original progenitors, but it has also left behind many elements which were inherited during the initial development from the previous family therapy and brief therapy traditions.  The name ‘SFBT 2.0’ is proposed, to help prevent confusion with earlier forms while maintaining that this is not a new therapy but an important evolution of existing practice.  

Brief Therapy: Focused Description Development (click to download) 
Published as Iveson, C. and McKergow, M. ( 2016 ). Brief Therapy: Focused Description Development, Journal of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy 2ƒ), pp 1-17
We present a potential new view of solution focused brief therapy (SFBT), based on the development of descriptions in therapy conversations. This version of SFBT leaves out many accepted aspects of the model, so far, including: tasks, end of session compliments, exceptions to the problem and compliments. We address the issue of theory in solution focused practice and make a distinction between theory as mechanism and explanation – a 'scientific' approach, and more philosophical theory which can act as a useful guide to attention for practitioners. We point to potential connections between this view of SF work and recent developments in the field of enactive cognition and post-Wittgensteinian philosophy of mind, including narrative philosophy.

From Wittgenstein, complexity and narrative emergence: Discourse and solution-focused brief therapy
by Gale Miller and Mark McKergow
Published as Wittgenstein, Complexity, and NarrativeEmergence: Discourse and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (in A. Lock and T. Strong, eds Discursive Perspectives in Therapeutic Practice. (Oxford: Oxford University Press) pp 163-183
This chapter connects Wittgensteinian thinking and complexity perspectives with discourse in the therapy room and elsewhere. We propose that this connection, termed 'narrative emergence''. While the future is unknowable, it is an ever present possibility in the present. We continuously create and discover the future by engaging in self-organizing activities (particularly social interactions) that are, at least partly, improvised, and potentially transformative. Thus, the narratives emergent in our everyday lives are always under construction. They exist in our ongoing ‘work’ to make sense of and manage the exigencies of life. These narratives emerge step-by-step in discourse.

Language, complexity and narrative emergence: Lessons from Solution Focused practice
by Dr Mark McKergow
Published as a chapter in Tait, A. and Richardson, K.A. ( 2011 ). Moving Forwards With Complexity: Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Complex Systems Thinking and Real World Applications Litchfield Park AZ: Emergent Publications, ISBN 978-0-9842165-9-8
This paper examines the case for viewing conversations as emergent phenomena, and the practical consequences for complexity practitioners and others engaged in 'talking cures'. Post-structural thinking from Wittgenstein onwards is connected to the school of Solution-Focused practice, which has made explicit use of these ideas in a practical, pragmatic and effective form of psychotherapy and coaching. These fields can be connected by the idea of 'narrative emergence', which casts light on the ways in which new narratives are formed within apparently everyday conversations.

The Evolution of SF Theory: Discussion group at the EBTA conference 2011, Dresden, Germany.
Saturday 24 September 2011
Main participants: Mark McKergow, Gale Miller, Kirsten Dierolf, Rayya Ghul
Also contributing: Michael Hjerth, Carey Glass, Jenny Clarke, Bertil Andersson, Wolfgang Gaiswinkler, Klaus Schenck, Aviva Suskin-Holmqvist.

Inbetween - neither inside nor outside
Mark McKergow PhD MBA and Harry Korman MD
Published as McKergow MW and Korman H ??), Journal of Systemic Therapies Vol 28 No 2 pp 34 - 49
In this paper we attempt to set out some crucial ways in which we see the practice of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) as differing from other forms of therapy. Chief amongst the differences are the ways in which we act as if humans are neither driven from the inside by some kind of mentalistic or molecular framework, nor are they driven from the outside by systems or social forces.

Constructing the Future - Different dialogues about solution-focused work
a discussion document by Mark McKergow, Gale Miller and the Karlstad Group
We believe that the solution-focused world is at a potential tipping point. The issue at hand involves the next steps that participants in the solution-focused world might take to construct the future. We believe that an important next step for the solution-focused movement involves widening the horizons of the movement to connect it with other-complementary-orientations to social thought and practice. This move promises to increase popular awareness and influence of solution-focused principles and practices.
This proposal outlines one future direction for solution-focused thought and practice. It discusses the usefulness of complexity theory for understanding how change happens within social interaction and how solution-focused practices facilitate change. We encourage others to respond to the proposal and to offer their own proposals for advancing the solution-focused movement.

Conveying Simplicity
Learning how to act simply in complex situations

Mark McKergow (sfwork) and Michael Hjerth
Published in Solution Focused Management, edited by Günter Lueger and Hans-Peter Korn, Rainer Haupp Verlag (Vienna) 2006, pages 75-82.

Simplicity is a key aspect of both the work of Steve de Shazer and the SF approach. However, conveying this simplicity to managers is not easy. Mark McKergow and Michael Hjerth explore the role of simplicity in SF work, to help participants to think more simply about their own practice and how to help convey these ideas to managers learning SF.

Beyond the Brain:
The Solutions Focus and the Second Cognitive Revolution

by Mark McKergow
A 'revolution' is running through the world of psychology and people. Around the world, consultants, educators and trainer are discovering the power and the pragmatic benefits of taking a solutions focus. What happens when, instead of analysing the problem, you analyse the solution instead?
SEAL Conference, 20 - 22 June 2003, Keele, UK