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Next Steps – a review

‘Impressions of a Next Steps in Solution Focused Practice Course –

by an Independent Social Worker’

James Clossick, a former colleague of mine (we worked together in an adolescent psychiatric unit a quarter of a century ago – I was a lowly nursing assistant, he seemed grand as a social worker), turned up on my Next Steps training course last week. He told me that he is as much a writer as a social worker these days. I asked him if he would write about the course. He agreed, gave it the above title, and wrote as follows –

‘I attended a basic solution focused course run by Guy Shennan some time ago and have done some reading on the subject. What I haven’t been able to do is get in a lot of practice using the techniques that Guy teaches, as my work has centred on assessment rather than change work for the past few years. Consequently, I joined the other participants on the ‘next steps’ course with more than a little trepidation as they all seemed to be experienced practitioners looking to hone their skills with others who use solution focused techniques on a daily basis.

I needn’t have worried. Guy is a trainer who treats participants as competent, so that not only did he trust the group members to already have some knowledge he also trusted that we wouldn’t be there if we weren’t prepared to work hard to develop our knowledge and skills. Even before introductions Guy allowed us to demonstrate what we knew in a tightly structured exercise that looked at how we know when we get up in the morning that we are on good form.

Over two days we reviewed the basic principles of SF interviewing, including contracting with the client and eliciting details about the client’s preferred future. We explored what happens in follow-up sessions, including some vital input on how we might help returning clients who say that things have been worse. We also looked at some specific needs of course members such as working with groups and scaling practice. The scaling input including applying different types of scales, such as a scale of confidence about maintaining change and another about progress through therapy, which enables the client to consider how close they are to being able to end the sessions.

What I found really helpful was that Guy offered so many variations on how to get detail from clients, whether that detail was about what their preferred future would look like, what progress they were making towards that future, what differences the changes had made to their daily lives and how others might have noticed or responded to any changes that had taken place. All of these questioning techniques will help me to build up a comprehensive practice base and an ongoing structure for sessions.

A combination of fascinating video examples of real client interviews and what (for me anyway) were innovative role playing exercises meant that I was always interested and often challenged. And Guy is great at sticking to time, which suits me just fine.’

It was nice to see you again, James. Good luck with your solution-focused practice, and your writing. Maybe write some more about ways you find to use the solution-focused approach in building your comprehensive practice base?

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