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A training tutorial on solution- focused therapy: A forum of voices sharing their refl ections

Chiara Santin The training context This article gives an account of a two-hour group tutorial

on solution-focused therapy with thirteen students training on the London Institute of Family Therapy’s certificate in systemic practice: child-focused stream, 2010-2011. Although the article is written from the tutor’s perspective,

I asked all students to share their thoughts and reflections with me following the tutorial. In response to this, three students offered their feedback, which they agreed to share in this article. Therefore, the article will be written using a dialogical approach, i.e. as a forum of different voices to allow multiple perspectives.

My own voice I have been a tutor for two years and I believe tutorials

are an essential component of the course in that they allow students to engage in experiential learning in a smaller and, hopefully, safe environment. This does present its challenges, as students (and tutors!) bring their own experiences and views about being part of a group and engaging in group activities, as well as diverse professional backgrounds and skills. Discussions within the small staff-group (two tutors and the

chair of the course) highlighted students’ stated struggles with understanding and engaging at a deeper level of self-reflexivity and developing critical analysis skills. In my tutorials, I was therefore aiming to create a safe space for students to explore their personal and unique relationship to different systemic models and ideas in relation to their practice and professional contexts.

The tutorial activity

Is solution-focused therapy systemic? This tutorial was halfway through the course (March

2011) and I felt able to take more risks and “secure enough to improvise” (Byng-Hall, 1995, p. 3). In fact, the activity was not planned in advance in its details but developed out of a spontaneous discussion in relation to the solution-focused model. In the morning, during the lecture, students watched the

video of Insoo Kim Berg, “I’d Hear Laughter” (1994) in which she was using the solution-focused model of therapy with a family. In the afternoon, during the tutorial, an interesting discussion developed out of my question to students about their views regarding the position of a solution-focused therapist along the continuum of directive-collaborative. The group conversation evolved into a debate around whether or not the solution- focused model is indeed systemic. I therefore asked all students

Context February 2012

to express their views regarding this, making a note on a flipchart.

How would you describe the solution-focused therapy model?

Systemic ______________________________________ Unsystemic It was interesting to notice how diversified the students’

positions were both from a personal and professional point of view. At this point, I decided to use a handout (which I had earlier prepared!) to help students identify some personal and professional connections to the model (see below).

Personal and professional connections to the solution-focused model

Solution-focused brief therapy: Key principles Key principles

Looking for exceptions to the problem: positives

Exception-seeking questions: e.g. what has been diff erent/bet er?

Solution focused Future oriented From general to specifi c

Explore + expand on alternative ways of coping, e.g. doing more of People have their own solutions

Belief that people are resourceful

Finding motivation e.g. need to change Change as inevitable

People naturally bound to change to respond to life events, lifecycle, life circumstances

Time-limited & brief

Staying focused on specifi c goal & progress


Personal domain

Professional domain

A training tutorial on solution-focused therapy: A forum of voices sharing their refl ections

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