Solutions Focus (SF) is an incisive way of building positive change in tough situations. It is a rich and multi-dimensional approach with roots in 'brief therapy', and has a long and well-established heritage in many contexts including organisational change, education, conflict resolution and coaching. There are at least three ways to see SF from different perspectives:
- At its simplest, SF can be viewed as being about 'finding what works' or 'finding useful change and amplifying it'. This leads to a powerful tool for engagement, building progress rapidly and getting things moving when things are difficult or confusing. For an introduction, read Mark McKergow's article Solutions Focus - Changing Everything By Changing As Little As Possible.
- At another level, SF can be seen as a way of working with complex systems, where change in any one element may well lead to widespread other changes in ways which are not highly predictable. In such systems, a complete understanding is impossible and so other levers for change than analysis need to be sought. SF is an excellent way of working with, rather than fighting, emergent change in people and organisations. For an introduction to this perspective, read Mark's published paper Language, complexity and narrative emergence: Lessons from Solution Focused practice.
- SF, being a conversational tool, is all about language. The forms of questions and conversations used in SF work are quite specific, following a quite rigorous form in the ways in which issues of causality, emotion, responsibility etc are handled. There are important parallels with the thinking of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and connections to post-structural and embodied narrative schools. SF can be seen as a connecting practice linking complexity and narrative, part of a larger meta-thing of 'narrative emergence'. For an introduction at this level, read the book chapter from Gale Miller and Mark McKergow published by Oxford University Press, From Wittgenstein, Complexity and Narrative Emergence.
Perspectives 2 and 3 can look a little daunting at first. However, it's quite in order to use SF as a powerful too without being an expert in complexity or narrative - indeed, that is the beauty of the approach! However, you might just get hooked...