So what might you do if your client tells you they are at 0 on the scale? In her account of sequences of solution-focused questions, Lipchik (1988a, p. 117) says that ‘the construction of solutions … is greatly fSacilitated when the clients feel their complaints are accepted as stated and that they are being understood’ and that, therefore, ‘there are times when focusing on exceptions and potential solutions could prevent the necessary fit from being established and maintained’, where by ‘fit’ she is referring to the collaborative process between client and worker. Different sequences are required, which according to Lipchik were beyond the scope of her chapter. The aim of this chapter is to fill this gap by suggesting ways of responding and continuing solution-focused conversations when clients tell you they are at 0 or find other means of indicating just how severe their problems are. The ideas generated will also be useful for those times when clients are feeling stuck, immobilised perhaps by the weight of their problems; when strong negative emotions are being expressed; and in those follow-up meetings when the client responds to ‘What’s better?’ by reporting that nothing is better, the situation is the same, or worse.
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