First, drop your theories!
I started a training with a group of lovely participants (somehow we always end up with the best and kindest people — lucky us! It’s true!). They were super interested in the Solution Focused approach and eager to start coaching.
One participant, Jill, came with a request: “I want to learn more theory!” Of course, this is a great sign — curious people wanting to learn more. I was also surprised: we do teach the theory of the solution focused approach – there is written material, articles, even two extra videos on the theory of the Solution Focused Approach: one on the history and one on the theory
“So what additional material are you looking for?”, I asked. Jill replied: “I heard about ‘mental models’, ‘logical levels’ and then my friend who is attending another training program was telling me about Spiral Dynamics, where you can see exactly where the client is and what their next step is.”
Now it dawned on me — Jill wasn’t looking for a theory of Solution Focus (e.g. poststructuralism, postmodernism, social constructionism, discursive psychology, microanalysis) but was looking for a theoretical framework about the client. Sadly, Solution Focus does not supply that.
In Solution Focus, we attempt to have as little assumptions about the client as possible. We see ourselves as real partners in the conversation and do not pretend to be outside, judging, analyzing or diagnosing the client in any way. Solution Focus is an approach that takes “not knowing” very seriously.
I understand that beginning coaches really want to do a good job and feel competent in what they are doing — therefore this radical position of “not knowing” probably feels uncomfortable at first. With a little more practice, we understand that the knowledge and skills that clients are paying us for are our conversational skills: the ability to listen for what the client wants and what the client is already able to do, the ability to stay present with the client, our skills in partnering to ask questions and make observations, our belief in that the client can figure out a way forward.
So: first, drop your theories!
If you are interested in practicing the theory of the approach with no theory (about the client), do come to one of our free coaching meetup and exchanges!
Looking forward to seeing you there!