Explaining the kind of Coaching I practice can be very frustrating.
I believe the label ‘Solution-Focus’ does not help – but it is what we have.
So let me be clear: “solution-focused” (as opposed to “problem-focused”) does not mean we are problem-phobic, as Insoo Kim Berg herself said; it does not mean we wear rose-tinted glasses and we live in a Polyanna world.
It simply means we adhere to the empirical finding that analyzing problems does not make a difference when trying to solve people-problems, e.g. managing a difficult employee or making a behavioral change (as opposed to “mechanical” or “medical” problems, i.e. fixing the car or healing an infection).
Finding out why you act out some behaviors again and again can be very interesting – yet it does not help you change those behaviors.
Analyzing why your co-worker is so obnoxious can be very interesting – yet it does not bring you any closer to a solution of the problem you have when you work with her.
As a professional, of course you can engage in those conversations – while interesting, though, those conversations are not essential to help clients move forward. You can safely skip them without affecting the outcome, and with the added benefit of saving time.
OK, so the “solution-focused” methodology allows practitioners to cut to the chase and do only what is necessary to catalyze a successful outcome for clients. That is why in Solution-Focus the number of coaching sessions needed is typically 2, the number of therapy sessions needed is usually no more than 4. Again, it is no magic. It is economy of effort. Brief by definition.
So why don’t we drop the label “Solution-Focus” and just use “Brief-Coaching”?
That is what I often do. However, as soon as the conversation with a prospect gets started, you kind of need to qualify the word “brief”.
That is because, unfortunately, other approaches in therapy got to that word first: but they use it to convey a very different meaning.
For example, “Brief Psychodynamic Therapy” is “typically considered to be no more than 25 sessions (Bauer and Kobos, 1987). In the same page on the NIH website we read that “Crits-Christoph and Barber included models allowing up to 40 sessions.” (!!!)
When Psychodynamic Therapists talk about “Brief” they mean something of a different order of magnitude than what Solution-Focused Brief Therapists mean (40 vs. 4).
So we practice and teach “Brief Coaching”. But we often need to qualify it: “Solution-Focused Brief Coaching“.
Be Bold, Be Brief, Be Gone – Major Megan Malia-Leilani McClung, USMC