Is Solution Focus the BEST Coaching Approach?

That depends on what you mean by “best”, of course. What would a “best” coaching approach entail? The most effective? The one that gives clients the easiest way to reach their goals? The one that goes “deepest” and creates most sustainable change? The one that clients love best?

The bad news is that Solution Focused Coaching is none of these – the good news is that no other approach seems to be either. Ok, in coaching we do not have a lot of studies comparing different approaches of coaching and their effectiveness — however, we do in psychotherapy. The search for the most effective treatment option has busied psychotherapy researchers for decades. What emerged is the “Dodo Verdict” – “Everyone has won, and they all must have prizes”. However many studies are conducted, usually the outcome is that they are equally effective. To learn more about this go to Scott Miller’s blog: Beating the Dodo Verdict: Can Psychotherapy Ever Achieve Better Results? (scottdmiller.com) or read about it in the interview I was able to conduct with him here: Interview with Scott Miller

If all therapy approaches have similar outcomes, why use Solution Focus? For me, clearly, it is “the best” approach — meaning that I prefer working in a Solution Focused way while knowing that all other approaches are probably equally effective (if we can extrapolate from psychotherapy research).

My reasons for liking the Solution Focused approach are ethical reasons. In Solution Focus, the client is seen as resourceful and whole. The coach partners with the client and is firmly grounded in a “not-knowing” stance. We don’t privilege our views, perceptions, interpretations etc. over the client’s views and perceptions. While many other approaches also take that stance I have yet to find one that does so with the same radicalness.

In Solution Focus the relevant unit is the partnership of client and coach — there is no sense of the coach interpreting the client from the outside. We suspend our judgement and work from within the client’s frame of reference. When something is not working in our collaboration, coach and client fix it together.

Solution Focus is also a very hopeful approach: we listen for what the client wants, what the client is already able to do and for the client’s agency. While we acknowledge and validate our client’s experience (of course!), we focus on understanding the client’s future rather than creating a narrative about why the problem arose.

Personally, I would never ask anyone to stop doing what is working for them – if another approach floats your boat, keep using it! And with all honest and heartfelt respect that I have for other coaching approaches, for me Solution Focus is “the best”. 🙂

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