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How to apply solution focused approach in different areas

SF approach, as a general philosophy of change and as a set of conversational tools, has
applications far beyond its original therapeutic use. SF practitioners focus on strengths and resources people or organizations possess in order to bring the desired changes to move forward.


Coaching: Due to the contextual similarity between coaching and therapy, coaching was
one of the early areas where SF approach was widely applied. The SF approach to coaching places primary emphasis on assisting the client to define a desired future state and to construct a pathway in both thinking and action that assists the client in achieving that state.

Social Work: When SF thoughts are applied in the areas of social work, worker and client
are seen as partners in the change process. Here the focus is on concrete, specific behaviors that are achievable within a brief time period. 


Training and leadership development: Learning and development professionals, trained in
SF tools, have been demonstrating their success in their enhanced capability to develop
skills and knowledge among their trainees. Emphasis is placed on ‘what is already
working’ and developing on it, rather than teaching didactically. Johansson and Persson
(2007) describe their work with the leader of a 40-strong Social Security team in Sweden,
resulting in improvements in performance across the board.


Organizational Change and Management: Over the years, SF approach has grown in its
popularity and acceptance, leading more SF practitioners work closely with management
and organizations. SF has been found to help effectively bring out changes, maximize profit and help people adapt well to those changes. To quote an example, Van Hogh (2009) introduced the management team of the Dutch IT company Hogendoorn to SF ideas via a workshop and a strategic planning exercise. The resulting changes to business plans and implementation led to a doubling in profit and halving of stocks and debtors in just 3 months. Van Hogh links this success with the way that SF methods helped connect the management and workforce and channeled energy and motivation into next-day action.

  • Johansson, B., & Persson, E. (2007). Change is in the eye of the beholder. In M.McKergow & J. Clarke (Eds.), Solutions focus working (pp. 159-173). Cheltenham,UK: Solutions Books.
  • Van Hogh, M. (2009). SF management in an IT company. Presented to the SOLWorld 2009 conference, Texel, the Netherlands.

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We provide education and credentialing, organize seminars, workshops and conferences and promote research on the application of solution-focused approaches in diversified fields such as mental health, education, coaching and organizational development.

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