(this is part 1 of 2)

Solution based therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses more ion what can be done with solutions rather than what is the origin of the problem.

It’s a great tool set for communication and influence and most of the techniques apply for organisational change as well as they apply for individual change.

These are questions that I use every day at work and that I see other people use as well.

Here are twenty solution focused questions / techniques:

  1. The desired situation question. These are questions that help clarify what the desired outcome of a situation is. Questions like “what does the desired situation look like?” , “would you like instead of the problem?” , “what does success look like?”
  2. The what’s better question. Refocuses back on what the progress has been so far. It often has a motivating effect. Useful guidelines are to keep the question simple (“so, what’s better since the last time we met?”) and to repeat it often until the receiver “runs out” of good things to say
  3. The past success question. Gathers resources from a situation in where the receiver has known how to deal with the situation and now is having problems increasing confidence and/or hope. Questions like “so when have things been better?” , “have you ever been able to solve such a problem before?”
  4. Paraphrasing using the receivers words. Shows concern and that you’re listening. Make sure to use the exact words (visual, auditory or kinaesthetic) the other person has used as this language matching is what often does the trick.
  5. The scaling question.  Asks the receiver to grade where he stands on the subject on a scale of 1-10, where ten is the desired outcome. Asking follow up questions like “what would an 8 feel like?”, “what would you have to do to get to a 8” usually elicits what the best next steps are.
  6. The miracle question. Asks the receiver “if a miracle would happen such that the problem would be solved, but nobody knew it but you, how would you start discovering that a miracle happened and the problem had indeed been solved? What would he see/hear/feel to that effect? What would happen next?”
  7. The exception seeking question. Since the problem intensity is likely to have fluctuated in this past, these questions explore what was different and how the receiver has made that happen before. Questions like “has there been a time in which this problem was not so intense ? What was different? What were you doing that might made that happen?”
  8. The usefulness question. These are questions that probe with the intention to make the conversation as useful as possible to those involved. Questions like “how can we make this conversation as useful as possible?” or my favourite “what do you want to come out of this conversation?” or “what would you notice afterwards that would tell you this conversation was worth your time?”. Super time savers at the start of any meeting.
  9. Solution focused directing. Ways of using solution focused techniques to influence someone to achieve a goal. Usually in the form of “how can you … So that …”
  10. The coping question. Usually helpful when the receiver is really having a hard time and can barely find the energy to solve problems. Questions like “what keeps you going under these difficult circumstances?” , “what helps you keep going even though things are hard?”, “how did you manage to cope before you gave up?”

Next week, stay tuned for the remaining 10 solution-focused questions 😉


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