Do one thing – different or the same, it doesn’t really matter…
Had a lovely morning yesterday with my colleague, Clare Thormod, a GP in East London, training a group of speech therapists. I have been closely connected with Clare for a while, but it was the first time that I can recall us actually training together. And it was a pleasure for me to be able to listen to Clare talking about some of the ways that she makes use of the solution-focused approach in her ultra-brief consultations as a GP.
One thing I liked in particular was how Clare talked about always setting out to do at least one thing, consciously, with each patient in a session (she might see 18 patients or so in a session). With these sorts of numbers, those timescales and the resulting pressure, it can clearly be difficult to follow through on a whole solution-focused approach, so keeping it really simple and making sure you do at least one thing just made a lot of sense. And that one thing might be as simple as smiling at each patient as they walk in, or giving each patient a compliment at the end or at some point during the consultation (and committing to giving each person you see a compliment is going to inevitably influence what questions you ask them, but that’s for another blog post maybe), or asking just one question – ‘What do you do to look after your health?’ (a GP’s ‘problem-free talk’ question) or a certain series of questions – ‘How were you hoping I could help?’ ‘What difference were you hoping that would make?’
It reminded me of my early days of learning to do solution-focused practice, with my fellow social workers, Phil Lewis and Margaret Hinchcliffe, up in Derby. We were excited for a time by Bill O’Hanlon and Sandy Beadle’s book, A Field Guide to Possibility Land, as this lent itself to trying out one thing at a time, often a technique that was new to us, all sorts of ways of acknowledging with possibility for example, or asking ‘inclusive’ questions. Stimulating days.
I wonder what ‘one thing’s I might try now. What one thing could you do each time you see someone, for a while, that would enhance your learning and your practice?