Friday June 14th 2013, hosted by Change Birmingham
Recently, I attended this conference as a participant and also presented a workshop there. It was fascinating to meet colleagues involved with using solution focused approaches in different sectors and it struck me that it can be very enriching to make links with another sphere related to but distinct from your own. Many attendees came from therapeutic and counselling contexts and a series of engrossing conversations showed me how they use solution focused approaches to reflect constructively with clients/patients and identify new ways of thinking and acting.
As a solution focused coach in Further Education, my workshop was a chance to share ideas and get feedback from another working context. As a seasoned conference speaker, it was a great chance to present to a different audience, to come out of my comfort zone and see if I could find points of contact with people from an unfamiliar sector. It made me realise how refreshing it is to choose to challenge yourself a little and how valuable this is as you become more experienced and familiar with one sector. Talking about how solution focused approaches work in education helped me refine my notion of that and hearing about how it works in the world of healthcare gave me some new avenues to explore.
My session was entitled Becoming more SF- what could that do for you? It included an activity on identifying a moment when you were performing well and finding transferable learning from it. The attendees coached a partner on a real issue, to get a feel for the activity. The feedback comments related to how the coachees valued the attentive listening by the coach and the chance to reflect quietly. Some mentioned how unusual and positive it felt to reflect on strengths instead of areas for improvement. Several participants could see immediate applications to their work and went away keen to explore this further. It interested me to find that this focus on strengths provoked similar reactions to those by teachers in colleges.
As a conference delegate, the experience of attending was also thought provoking. There was a lively and stimulating keynote presentation by Steve Conlon and David-Dean Holyoake about theoretical and practical influences on their solution focused evolution. Their engaging double act made me realise how two presenters can give you a very different type of keynote, with richness and an inbuilt momentum created by their interactions. I also attended several engaging and stimulating workshops during the conference.
Dr Mark Mc Kergow’s session entitled Meanings and molecules – SF as an enactive hybrid psychology was focused on theories of how people make meaning. Lots of food for thought and reading but also what struck me was how an eloquent, assured speaker can lecture with PP slides without the audience going into a coma! Mark spoke for a while, then engaged the group in small group reflection as well as plenary discussion by using questions. This format helped me to process some complex theoretical information and find applications and avenues for further exploration. A good reminder of the importance of chunking down content into manageable sections for learners and building in pause points to let individuals quietly reflect.
Janine Waldman & Paul Z Jackson ran a session called SF conversation as the everyday unit of change and it was an engaging and exploration of structuring conversations in ways that can create impact and be part of change. The activities we tried out emphasised the value of paying attention to wording in questions and how that can impact people in widely differing ways. This is an important point for consideration by coaches wanting to have useful and thought provoking conversations and the activities in pairs and groups helped us find and feel that point very vividly. It struck me how enjoyable a session can be when the presenters are skilled, passionate and rich in experience but also able to connect with people at any level of expertise to create an inclusive dialogue. It was a good reminder about pitching a session to your audience and engaging them effectively.
So all in all a stimulating and refreshing experience. Hope to see some of you in Liverpool next June for conversations about solution focused approaches.
As a date for your diary, the conference next year will take place as follows:
UKASFP 11th Conference, Liverpool, Thursday June 12th to Friday June 13th 2014
More information on UKASFP and the conference on the link below: