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Visualization, the "preferred future" & Solution-Focused practice

In Solution-Focused practice we ask clients to visualize their perfect future, usually by asking the “Miracle Question”. Research has demonstrated that visualization does not work to help people change. Doesn’t this result invalidate a very important tool of SF practitioners?

This is the question that we are going to answer in this post.
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Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on January 31, 2010 at 17:48
Concerning the "miracle question" or the "scaling question" I take in account what I heard Insoo Kim Berg saying in a reflection of one of her demo-coachings containing neither the "miracle question" nore even one "scaling question". She said: "the client was working hard enough to find a solution - so it was not necessary to ask such questions."
For me this was an eye-opener: In SF we ask not more question than necessary. "Miracle question" and "scaling question" are useful to de-focus from the problem. If a client already is in a "solution flow" such question are not necessary in each case.
Comment by Hani Bahwireth on January 31, 2010 at 13:46
Hi, Thank you for putting this question.
I relaized that it was a bit difficult for some people I do conversation with to answer miracle question. Few were struggling to answer it and some went fast to give a description on the day after the miracle. The way the question asked is important to be taken into account in terms of tune, words, and pause.
Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on January 20, 2010 at 8:26
Philip - yes, your wife Tobey did something what I also do on the "SolutionStage" (which I created as a psychodramatist). You are welcome to "surf" ==> here to find more details!
Comment by Phillip Ziegler on January 19, 2010 at 22:05
Paolo I am lucky to have found my way to this site. Knowing where people have blogs is way beyond my capabilities. Maybe if a Miracle happened the first thing I would notice is I would be typing in an internet address and there would be your blog.

And H-P, my wife Tobey was a psychodramatist for many years and she used to do a thing where she would have the protagonist (person working in the group) set up a future scene in which he or she was doing things and things were happening as he or she wanted. Others in the group would take parts. She would have the protagonist enact her desired role, an at times take the part of others in the enactment (thus allowing her to see someone else doing her role so she could experience as "the other" this enactment. When we came across the SFBT and the Miracle Question it seemed like future picture psychodrama without a group or active role playing but simply imagining.
Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on January 19, 2010 at 21:55
Thanks, Paolo, for the tip to "Read more here"
I was so much caught by "Doesn’t this result invalidate a very important tool of SF practitioners?" that I didn't see this "here" ...

Yes, I can share your conclusion: "So it turns out the best use of visualization is to picture oneself performing successfully rather than just having achieved success." I experienced this many times using the "Solution Stage" to give the protagonist the chance to "act out" how to perform specific situations much more successfully. "Celebrating the achieved success" is the closure of some of such performances, not the "main plot".
Comment by Paolo Terni on January 19, 2010 at 21:20
@Philip: that is pretty much the poin I make in my blog post. Did you read it?
Comment by Paolo Terni on January 19, 2010 at 21:19
@Hans-Peter: if you just click on the link to my article, by clicking on the underlined word "here" in the sentence ""read more here", you might actually learn more about "WHAT this researches [sic] demonstrates".
Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on January 19, 2010 at 20:47
Well, to reflect upon the question "Doesn’t this result invalidate a very important tool of SF practitioners?" I would like to learn more WHAT this researches demonstrates. Without knowing such details I only can argue: Of course - to visualize something without "working" with the vision does not necessarily help to reach the vision....
Comment by Phillip Ziegler on January 19, 2010 at 20:22
The miracle question isn't a tool for visualization. It's a conversational device that guides the client/coachee to begin imagining the signs of change which provide a foundation for conversations about times some of these happenings have already happened and they how the person contributed to making them happen. It's also a way to help the person identify the signs of progress--thus serving as a conversational devise that breaks down the person's black or white thinking--problem/no problem--seeing solutions as observable, experiential bits and pieces of the preferred future (without studying the problem in search of the solutions). Visualizations are about as effective as wishing and praying for divine intervention. May give someone hope but those things won't change the facts on the ground.

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