Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What does Solution-Focused Therapy have to do with Innovation?

First...... what IS Solution-Focused Therapy? It's a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the solution rather than the problems.

When first learned of this term, I think I was in graduate school. It didn't seem like anything new... it seemed like what I had done in athletics as a player and a coach. We didn't focus on the problem, but we focused on the solution. We learned that focusing on the problem keeps you status quo, but never moving forward. Focusing on the solution helped us to continually remember that we can't change what's already happened, but we can change the future. 

This makes me think of innovation. When trying to innovate, the focus has to be on the future. We can't substitute for the past, but we need to try to create a new and different future. 

How does innovation happen in schools? There are three requirements:

  • The school culture supports teachers taking risks and even possibly failing.
  • The school culture focuses on doing Whatever It Takes to help students learn
  • The staff, collectively and individually, focuses on creating a NEW future for the students we serve.
It also reminds me of the students that I serve as the ninth grade principal. I have several students who are repeating the ninth grade, and the habits they had last year that helped them to repeat ninth grade are re-surfacing as we start this new school year. Which leads me to ask myself and others around me who work with these students... 

How are we going to innovate so that these students don't have the same year they had last year?


  1. Ah, solution-focused therapy. I learned and practiced this as an in-home family counselor for a year after I stopped working as a teen wilderness therapy guide and before I started teaching. With a strengths-based focused added to this, the solution is derived in part from what is already working, from the strengths already present. The trick is often in identifying that. And I believe to find that, you have to be able to articulate the story of the entity. Our stories hold shape understanding and, with a solution-focused approach, retelling of our stories over times shapes their plot lines for the better.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Shawn. Sounds like you've had some terrific experiences! Thank you for tying together SFT and strengths-based focus. I appreciate your input.