Solution-Focused Model: Asking Questions
Social workers who utilize the solution-focused model are mindful of how their conversations with their clients, families, groups, or even community members facilitate their thinking about solutions. The client is always the “expert,” and therefore social workers ask questions to explore how the client perceives the problem and situation.
Social workers may use solution-focused questions such as the miracle question. For example, “Suppose you woke up one morning and by some miracle everything you ever wanted, everything good you could ever imagine for yourself, had actually happened—your life had turned out exactly the way you wanted it. What would be different in your life?” When clients are asked this, it forces them to reflect on what they want or would like to achieve. By projecting themselves into the future, clients are more likely to imagine what is possible rather than focusing on the past and their failures. This allows for the possibility of developing solutions.
In this Discussion, you apply the solution-focused model and solution-focused questions. You provide other solution-focused questions, similar to the miracle question that was provided for you.
Although the textbook provides actual examples of solution-focused questions, always think about your client—you may have to modify the question a bit to take into account the client’s age, cognitive and developmental stage, culture, etc., so that the question makes sense to the client.
Respond to two colleagues:
- Identify a barrier that might make it difficult to implement the solution-focused model with the client described.
- Discuss and be detailed on how a social worker could help a client re-focus on the present, rather than on their past.
- Include APA peer reviewed reference
Instructor requires this format for response to include:
1. Summary of what your colleague said
2. Research supported information that contributes or challenges your colleagues post
3. An invitation to you colleague to engage with you in a discussion of the assignment by asking a question
Response to Ericka
The Case of D. E.: A Solution-Focused Approach
Solution-Focused Theory was useful during my Field Experience. This theory emphasizes the client’s ability to cope with challenges and enhances the client’s awareness of these skills which can then be accessed more frequently (Ber & Kelly, 2000; de Shazer, 1985, as cited by Turner, 2017). Homeless individuals frequently encounter limitations and doors that are closed to them. Solution-Focused Theory is beneficial when implemented with this population because its interventions are centered around what the client is able to do rather than unable to accomplish (Turner, 2017).
The Problem as Perceived by the Client
D. E., a 20-year-old male mandated to drug court after an arrest for methamphetamine possession, lives with E. B. who relapsed on alcohol, marijuana, and benzodiazepines accompanied with threatening and erratic behavior. Aside from E. B.’s volatile behaviors, D. E. was concerned because his drug-court program prohibited him from cohabitating with active users and because E. B.’s drug use was contributing to D. E.’s using urges.
A Scaling Question and Establishing a Solution
I asked D. E. a scaling question which is based on a ten-point scale to assess his perception of his experience (de Jong & Berg, 2013, as cited by Turner, 2017): “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you describe the intensity of your cravings since your roommate’s relapse two days ago?” This question helped me gain insight into D. E.’s risk for relapse and set the stage for a relapse-prevention plan. Neither D. E. nor I could control E. B.’s behavior. However, we could collaborate on how to maintain D. E.’s recovery.
A Coping Question and Establishing a Solution
I also asked a coping question to encourage the client to acknowledge his ability to address this issue and identify specific skills that are useful to him (Turner, 2017): “How have you maintained your sobriety through this experience?” This encouraged D. E. to not only identify effective coping methods for resisting urges but also provided evidence towards D. E.’s ability to choose his reactions rather then feel controlled by his addiction. From this point, D. E. could choose from several solutions for his cravings: call his sponsor, go to a meeting, call his MUST social worker, contact his therapist, pick up an extra shift at work, etc.
Reflection: How I Felt and How the Client May Have Felt
Asking D. E. these questions made me encouraged by D. E.’s ability to resist using urges and apply recovery concepts to his life. Even though I understand the nature of addiction, I also felt slightly frustrated with E. B. for his behavior which threatened D. E.’s safety as well as his own. D. E. reported feeling hopeful because of the insight he gained from a Solution-Focused approach. He explained that he did not realize how much stronger he had become in his recovery. D. E. reached the final phase in drug court and transitioned to mental health court where he continued to recover.
Solution-Focused Theory is a useful approach when working with the homeless clients like D. E.. During my time working with D. E., this theory was invaluable. With the use of Solution-Focused questions such as scaling questions and coping questions, D. E. and I assessed his experiences living with an actively using addict and discovered his commitment to a new way of life. By focusing on his abilities to withstand temptations to relapse, he developed a sense of confidence and security in his recovery. This contributed to his ability to stay sober until we were able to find different placement for his roommate.
Berg, I. K. & Kelly, S. (2000). Building solutions in Child Protective Services. New York:
W. W. Norton.
de Jong, P. & Berg, I. K. (2013). Interviewing for solutions (4th ed.). Belmont, CA:
de Shazer, S. (1985). Keys to solutions in brief therapy. New York: W. W. Norton.
Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment interlocking theoretical approaches (6th e.).
New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Response to Shannon
Identify and Describe the Problem Perceived by the Client during the Fieldwork Experience
A.G. was a 26-year-old Caucasian female who was admitted to the Trauma Resolution Center seeking therapeutic and holistic services. Upon intake, A.G. stated that she has been struggling with remaining sober almost her entire life; she experienced several traumas such as rape, domestic violence, witness of murder, and she witnessed her brother’s suicide. A.G. sought services because she felt that she was going back to her old ways when she engaged in illicit drug use and other dangerous behaviors such as prostitution.
Coping Question and Scaling Question
When dealing with this client, it would be beneficial to ask a coping question and a scaling question. Turner (2017) describes the coping question’s goal as helping the client realize when they are coping with their problems and notice what they are doing when they are successfully coping. In A.G.’s situation, this would be a great type of question to ask because based on her presenting problem, it seems that A.G. is coping with her traumas by engaging in illicit drug use. I would phrase the questions as, “I see that things have been really difficult for you, yet somehow you manage to get up in the mornings and go to work. How do you do that?”
Another question I would ask A.G. is a scaling question. A scaling question is designed for clients to “quantify and evaluate their situation and progress so that they establish a clear indicator of progress themselves” (Turner, 2017, pp. 520). I believe this type of question is beneficial for A.G. because it will help her place her problems on a rating scale which will allow her to notice any progress she has made during these situations. The question I would ask her is, “One a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the solution and 1 is the worst possible situation, where do you stand today?”
How the Questions made the Client and Practitioner Feel
The questions made me feel hopeful because these are great ways for the client to come up with a solution to their problems or at least a small step towards progress. The questions may have been overwhelming for the client because they require self-reflection and to possibly remember the difficult situations she has gone through. It may trigger her at first but in the end, she would have made some improvement because she is thinking about solutions.
Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment interlocking theoretical approaches (6the.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.