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at the same time, I was “making it up” along the way, trying to hold a collaborative stance towards my students’ learning by using their positive feedback and high energy in the room as the activity progressed. Furthermore, I was mindful of my underlying intention, which aimed at promoting self-reflexivity as typical of a second-order position. An interesting ongoing dilemma to wrestle with in training, supervision and therapy is, in fact, how to hold on to our own expertise and authority without losing a collaborative stance (Mason, 2011). The “directive” mode I adopted could have been a

reflection of students’ preference to be led by the tutor rather than taking more risks and responsibility for their own learning. This might suggest a possible mismatch of expectations, values and approaches between students and tutor (Scaife, 1993, writing within the context of supervision). During this tutorial, I was aware of a variety of learning styles and expectations present in the group, yet I decided to take risks, trying to act upon my inner self-instructing voice to “go for it!” and making decisions along the way about how to best manage the group-learning process. Furthermore, creating an

imaginary scale in the room where students were taking different positions looked like a form of sculpting (Kantor & Dahl, 1973; Papp, 1973) which reflected not only students’ individual views and positions but also a physical and emotional representation of the student group, and their relationship with each other; e.g. by talking to their neighbours and negotiating their position with one another. I also reflected on some group processes, suggesting that it is possible some students might have chosen a “middle position” in order to avoid feeling exposed or singled out and having to give account of their views and position.

Students’ voices After a few days, I asked all students for some feedback

about the tutorial and three students replied as follows: Kristin Dockar wrote: I thought the exercises for solution-focused brief therapy,

where we moved along an imaginary line in relation to how we thought solution focused fits with us, were very effective. The physical placement and then subsequent movement enabled self-reflection both in the personal and professional sense. Initially, I placed myself around 6/7 on the line but

subsequent reflection on how effective sfbt could be for me in my work moved me up to a 7/8 rating. I enjoyed the debate on whether solution-focused therapy

is systemic or not. To my mind, yes it is. It uses approaches and techniques that can be found in strategic, narrative and attachment theories: all aim to find solutions; all work collaboratively to engage children and families to share, interact and explore their emotions and feelings around a problematic area in their lives. Questions, both rating and circular, are asked; exceptions or unique outcomes are investigated.

Context February 2012

Chris Evans wrote: Regarding the session on solution-focused brief therapy, I think

that it was very eff ective. I fi rst came across the idea of getting people to move around the room to consider a question some years ago, when helping to develop a children’s-rights training pack. We found that exercise very good to get participants to really think about key questions. The point which was made by someone was interesting as

well i.e. that unconscious responses can move the body in certain ways and to unexpected positions – which in turn gives another facet to reflection. A suggestion might be to have questions that are easy; for

some students might have

chosen a “middle position” in order to avoid feeling exposed or singled out and having to

give account of their views and position

example, in the children’s-rights context we stated. “All children have rights”. Everyone headed in one direction but then we would throw in a more controversial question, which made people spread out a bit. I think with solution-focused brief therapy this would be possible because there are more people with very strong views about it. More recently Chris added: I think it worth saying something about the complexity of the group whose experience varied immensely and I think this impacted on how individuals related to SFBT. This is because SFBT is very widely used but often in a selective way. In other words, practitioners use bits of it alongside other methods and approaches. For example, with experienced social workers, they will often make use of it but, in a discussion, have difficulty

in deconstructing their own personal approaches in order to identify a particular theoretical approach. Elizabeth Baldwin wrote: I found it helpful to use the scale in a physical way, i.e. on the

floor, as this reflects the way I often use it with children, and it gave me an experience of being asked to use it in that way for myself. I think it is always helpful to have experienced the things we ask clients to engage in as it highlights some of the emotions that may be going on within the client in respect to participating in the exercises. In the same way, I always encourage potential parent-group leaders to experience a group as a parent before training. I had naively thought there wouldn’t be much divergence of

opinion about whether solution-focused therapy was a systemic approach/tool. My own feeling is that it can be systemic and I feel that, when I use the solution-focused ideas, I do so in a systemic way by eliciting different perspectives from the people involved and comparing them. In the light of the above, I was not surprised at the spread of

perceived fit with personal and professional practice. Considering the future use of solution-focused ideas was

more difficult as I have no clear idea where I am going with this training and also my own professional pathway. However, as this is something I am mulling over at present, it was an interesting experience. Overall, I found it a positive useful way of considering solution-focused practice.


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

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