Unlike most models of helping, the solution-focused approach did not originate in theory. It was developed by practitioners who spent countless hours practising and many more hours engaged in the ‘disciplined observation’ of their practice, trying to work out what worked and discarding those elements that appeared not to (de Shazer, 1988). So, since its earliest days, solution-focused practice has always been a pragmatic approach that is best grasped by seeing it done and by doing it. As we shall see again and again throughout this book, solution-focused practitioners’ questions come from what they hear their clients say, rather than from theories they carry around with them in their heads. It is not possible to learn how to do solution-focused practice from reading books containing theories about people, about why they have problems and about what therefore needs to be done to help to resolve those problems. Unlike the majority of helping approaches that have originated in the worlds of psychology, counselling and psychotherapy, solution-focused practice is not based on such theories. This poses a challenge for anyone setting out to write a book aimed at helping people learn how to do solution-focused practice. However, although the approach is not based on theories about people, it does have a clear process which guides practitioners through their solution-focused conversations. What is required is to see this in action.
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