Smart Driving Member Tariq I Musaji returns! In the 2nd instalment of his latest article, Tariq discusses the “solution-focused approach” and in upcoming newsletters, he’ll also be looking into other coaching models/approaches being used in the driver training industry: This is his critical guide for ADIs.
The solution-focused approach
Human beings are creatures of habit. Our natural instinct when we have a problem is to spend time dwelling on the problem until it takes up all of our attention and there is no room to talk about anything else. It could also have a psychological effect through our demeanour and how we interact with other people. It could also lead to anger management issues in the workplace or when driving on the road.
Do we as humans have the ability to fix our own problems? Some problems are more complex and require re-engineering of our internal mental state: One of the components of the Solution-focused approach (Sf) is asking yourself what would it be like when the problem is solved?. Where is the solution to the problem? Is it in the problem itself? Once you have the idea for your problem, you can start making it real.
Sf approach was developed by Steve De Shazer and the late Insoo Kim Berg as a therapy method. Their ideas were built on focusing on desired changes and what worked best and doing more of it. Sf approach developed as a brief intervention. This does not mean that it was superficial: on the contrary, it reflected to do only what was necessary for the client to achieve movement forward (Cavanagh M, et al, 2014 p54.) In contrast to the non-directive approach, this is quite beneficial as some clients can sometimes reach their solutions quicker than others.
Change can be achieved in a short space of time, which is in contrast to some approaches which rely on in-depth analysis and insight (Thomson B, 2013) On the spectrum of achieving solutions for the client, the coach needs to ask the right type of questions. Questioning rather than telling, shifts the focus from the coach to the client. The more you can engage your client in exploring answers through effective questioning, the more likely clients will develop confidence in their ability to solve their own problems.
Simply giving solutions only serves to increase dependency on the coach and certainly does not allow the client to think for themselves or encourage them to use their own intelligence. One type of questioning which is deficient in non-directive approaches is the hypothetical question. Such questions pose a situation or a suggestion – for example: “what if…?” or “How about?”. Hypothetical questions can be very powerful and stretching in coaching situations (Parsloe E, Leedham M 2017 p158.) A hypothetical question can be enriched by asking people to think about going beyond the realms of their imagination. One of these questions is the “miracle question”.
Let’s imagine that whilst you’re asleep tonight, a miracle happens and the problem is completely solved. When you wake up, what will be the first thing that tells you that this miracle has happened?. What else will it tell you?. A rich question moves the client forward especially if you could try asking some questions which include an unexpected and less overused word eg. “good” is commonly used, “fine” is less commonly used. Less familiar and unexpected/less common words in questions make you listen up.
(Lyall D, 2008.) The “miracle question” is just one of the tools which helps to get the client to refine and focus on their goals. However, one of the set-backs of the “miracle question” is that it may come across to some clients as rather absurd or bizarre!. This may have an adverse effect on the rapport which had been successfully built between the coach and client.
The “two videos question” is another useful tool to have in the coach’s repertoire. The mind is powerful and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the great arctic explorer talks avidly about mind over matter. The coach can put the client into two emotional “states.” One is to imagine a video playing the current scenario depicting the same problems and how it affects their emotions, values and beliefs. The second video uses imagining again but this time showing the positives, the “feel-good factors” of how their life has changed and hopefully for the good!.
Talking through and comparing the differences between the two videos helps to “show” the client the steps they need to take to achieve their ultimate goal(s). The non-directive approach has no set compass to navigate the rough seas metaphorically speaking, as it lacks a structure and a set time-frame which can have a profound motivational effect on the person being coached. One other tool that I would recommend in the Sf approach is Tony Buzan’s “mind-mapping” exercise which is really useful and has added value as it:
- Helps the client to identify the problems that they are trying to solve or eradicate for good
- Assists the coach to identify any concerns
- Is a catalyst for commitment to change: A positive way forward
- Acts as a change agent: the client can take this away from the session
- Could reveal the client’s inner-self, which could be hampering the client’s progress in achieving their target goal(s) (Edwards Ian, 2011)
Next time, Tariq looks at Cognitive Behavioural /NLP approaches