Workshop: “You, me, they = us … & just the situations”



My practice as a sf practitioner is still rooted in basic SFBT ideas. I refer to ideas and techniques like the client as an expert making choices, collaborative stance during our work with clients, focusing on clients’ resources and potentials, using goal-setting, Miracle Question, traditional scaling, exceptions and many others. Workshop will be presented with this background which I’ve received during sf training in Poland and abroad (e.g., EBTA conferences). On the basis of my 25 years of professional practice which includes 18 years of practicing SFBT, I’ve implemented some changes within my SFBT thinking and acting. I would like to present some aspects of those changes which stem from my practice in the Polish welfare system. One of the changes is my attempt to go beyond the problem/solution dichotomy. I see SFBT as a great step away from problem solving therapy traditions, yet SFBT still includes ideas around problems. As a springboard from that, I’ve developed a “situations-focused” concept, where problems are mostly called “unwanted situations”, “situations which bring pain, worries …” (making them more a matter of experiencing than objective and constant description – “it’s a problem”), and where solutions (in terms of SFBT tradition) are called “wanted situations” or “preferred situations”. The SFBT concept of exceptions is connected with the question asked to clients , “When it was better? How was it?” and is adopted to the concept of “data situations” where we ask basic exception questions with the hope of finding client’s useful experience. We also ask more questions (when needed and required), like, “Where and when have you seen it in some person’s experience?” or “Maybe you would like to meet with people who have had similar experiences that you want to have in your coming future? If yes let’s do it!” or “Would you like to hear more about my knowledge which I gathered from people with similar goals like yours or in similar situations like yours?” or “Maybe you have interest in some knowledge which is gathered around issues you cope with? Maybe you can check out it’s usefulness for you after getting some taste of such knowledge?”. In the concept of “data (past), present and preferred situations”, which I call the situation-focused model, it’s very important to remember that in many cases “data (past), present and preferred situations” also include aspects which clients perceive as pluses and minuses. So, we claim that it’s worthwhile to consider with clients the pluses and minuses of the preferred future picture, to use “pluses” energy and prepare for coping with “minuses” energy. On the basis of the situation concept, I’ve created a schema of situation scaling, which is a tool for finding out more about what works.

TOMASZ SWITEK is the founder of the SFA Center in Poland , he works as a therapist, trainer, supervisor and coach. Has a lot of experience in the fields of chemical addictions and family violence prevention. For many years works withing Polish social welfare system and promote social work focused on solutions. He is co-author of materials, articles and books on the solution-focused approach published in Poland, US, UK and Germany and via internet.

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