The flexibility of the solution-focused approach enables lots of useful applications, outside of therapy and coaching with individuals and families. In collaboration with like-minded practitioners, I am developing collective solution-focused ideas and practices that aim at social as well as individual change.
Working side by side for social justice
This means working with groups and communities, as well as campaigning alongside people, and developing more equal and reciprocal relationships between helping professionals and people who receive help and use services. This article gives a flavour of what this can involve.
A community orientation
It is also important to consider the context in which we do all our work, including individual and family counselling. Leaving our offices and clinics, and working with people in their homes, local cafes, or in schools or the local doctor’s surgery, can be an important part of this. As well as being able to see clients at my base in the heart of London’s East End, I also have strong and developing connections with local community-based organisations.
Partnerships and alliances
These connections are supplemented by more formal partnerships and alliances, which will assist in the creation of more collective practices.
Guy Shennan Associates is developing a partnership with Zebra, a solution-focused, social justice-based workers' cooperative. I have presented together with Marc Gardiner, their solution-focused lead, on a number of occasions, including at the Irish Association of Social Workers event, Advocates and Allies, in Dublin in September 2019. Zebra were also part of the organising team for the 2019 UKASFP Conference , alongside my associate, Rob Black, and myself.
Marc and I co-wrote ‘Collectivising solution-focused practice’, which was published in the Critical and Radical Social Work journal in 2018.
I am working with ReFrame, which focuses on issues connected to care proceedings and child protection systems, and am on their steering group. I first met the psychologists and parents who set up ReFrame at a narrative therapy conference in 2017, later interviewing two of the parents for an article in the Professional Social Work magazine.
One of these parents and I followed this up with this joint blog post written when I was Chair of the British Association of Social Workers, in which I use the outsider witness practice from narrative therapy.
ReFrame is an inspiring and radical initiative, which I hope will be enhanced through bringing in solution-focused ideas and practices.
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