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Szilágyi Miklós - coaching.szm@gmail.com - www.isocrates.net - @preisocrates

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About a coaching book which fascinates…

isocrates_coaching 2013.04.22. 10:44

brief_coaching_2.jpgIt’s a subjective and passionate review of a book: “Brief coaching: A Solution Focused Approach (Essential Coaching Skills and Knowledge)” written by the UK BRIEF team (Chris Iveson, Evan George and Harvey Ratner) - http://www.amazon.com/Brief-Coaching-Solution-Essential-Knowledge/dp/041566747X . 

It’s too close to me not to be (very) subjective and (very) passionate about…:-))) 

To go – for a taste – to the core of the book (for showing that the book is really built on a solid base), a quote here… I love the way the book  e. g. formulates the two basic rules of conversation as such (as the principles solution focused (SF) approach is built on…): give space (don’t interrupt) and  build your contribution on the latest one… (be heard and understood). And because “…the coaching is at the complex end of the spectrum of professional conversations… the coach not only has to follow the two basic rules, turn taking and circularity, but also has to have a way deciding what aspect of each of the client’s responses to take up in the next conversational turn…” 

The book is more or less built around session transcripts and these transcripts are used as models for explaining the different principles and facets of this SF approach. 

To put this book in context, in my context, I should start relatively far… I actually started coaching some two and half years ago with  a “normal” coaching approach of  a little bit on the confronting side… then, I’ve met Kati Hankovszky of the Swiss SolutionSurfers’ team and her one-year long SF training course in Hungary, then, later I’ve also met Peter Szabo from the same team as our trainer… Then I’ve met lots of brilliant SF people in Oxford, on the so-called SolWorld 2012 conference last year… I also met Chris Iveson (one of the author of this book, a SF psychotherapist and coach) in the oldest pub of the walking-around-Oxford tour… 

I did not know Chris at that time we’ve met in Oxford… we changed some words (I was just in, he was just out of the pub) about the topic I was (and am) interested among other things, namely the differences and the similarities of the helping activities like therapy, coaching, mentoring, facilitation, especially the first two… Once, when met Ben Furman last year (another very acknowledged SF coach and psychiatrist and author of several books), he told me in the same topic when asked that everything changes, everything converging a little bit and the divers activities are learning from each other… in those some minutes I’ve asked Chris the same question, he basically told me the same thing about the convergence… there are the helper and the client/patient, they both are there with their own peculiar personalities and they are partners in finding solutions for the client… 

All these new SF experience (after my earlier, also very useful and deep training and practice experiences) was really a revelation for me… I thought: “Yessss… I have found it…”. It was on the other pole in the coaching continuum than the one I learned earlier and it was much more round, approachable and attractive – at least for me… also, I find the SF approach one which is better to structure your work with the client… practically you prepare, structure, build each and every session like it would cover the whole process… no “foreplay” (important difference to the other approaches), right into the core of the process… Now, I think I hear Chris’ voice, he would most probably disagree with some of the terms I used in this paragraph but that’s why he is he and I am me… They wrote the book, it has now it’s own trajectoire…:-))) 

And, then, I bought and read this book and I was (and am) completely amazed. The most interesting point (there are some…) is that the book of Chris et alii is stretching much further the continuum towards the edge of “leaving no footprints” (page viii). On the same page (in the Preface) you may read: “As one client said at the end of three sessions: ‘I know I would be dead if I hadn’t come to see you but it is important that I say that you have played no part in my life’. The coach was touched and replied, ‘Thank you. And you have played no part in mine. But I will always remember you’. ‘And I will always remember you’ she said with a smile.” Well, no comment to this… I have no words… 

One of my other preferred point is about the ‘I don’t knows’ of the clients… Look up the activities on the page 35… but before that read the chapter from page 29… 

And what about asking this: ‘What are your best hopes from our work together?’ instead of asking this: ‘How can I help you?’ 

The book writes in the Conclusion of the Introduction: “The model described in this book will pose serious challenge to many current coaching practices. It will also offer some intriguing possibilities that are not only likely to make coaching sessions more economical but will also increase the sense of satisfaction of both coach and client. The danger is that the model will be seen as too simplistic or even banal. It is neither: simple, yes; simplistic, no. Concerned with the routine and humdrum, yes; banal no more than life is banal…”. 

…it’s true… when I first met the SF principles on the first retraite weekend of the SF training course, I demanded myself: ‘Why on earth then have I learned all those tools?!’ Then, time’s passed and I did come to the answer… never better than after reading this book…The Hegelian triad (thesis, antithesis and synthesis) works: embedded into the SF framework/approach a  good bunch of tools (together with some SF tools) might be very useful - always with cautiousness, care and applied very “organically”, gained from the genuine flow of  the process itself…

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