Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

At last... Inbetween is finally published - read it here

You may remember that Harry Korman and I have been working on an epic paper about the radical simplicity of SF, and I put up a draft some time ago. Well, it's finally out in Journal of Systemic Therapies (following quite a lot of revision after the various peer reviewers comments), and you can read the final version at

The reference is McKergow MW and Korman H (2009), Journal of Systemic Therapies Vol 28 No 2 pp 34 - 49.

I'm pleased with this version - I think it's better structured, and is a good attempt to say some things I've been trying to say for many years, only lacked the words and expertise to get it onto paper. THIS is what I wish I'd been able to say in the Inbetween chapter of The Solutions Focus.

Please feel free to add comments and reactions below!

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Comment by Michael Goran on July 14, 2009 at 1:36
Congratulations. It's a fine read, and is there a PDF version one might download somewhere?
Comment by Michael Hjerth on July 9, 2009 at 10:57
Impressive work! I really see the honest attempt to capture some elusive qualities of SFT. I have chosen other angles to look at SFT that are not in contrast to inner/outer aspects. I do think it is important that the inbetween-position is articulated clearly and followed to it's ends. The article is also a courageus attemt to know and articulate what SFT is about and what it is not. A theory with a big T, actually, that can draw a line between correct and incorrect SFT. Now that that line is drawn, it is time to erase it again. Or to make sure that we don't stop here.

I'm not the one to do it, but I very much would like a strong constructive debate on this article, which will be hard, since it is well written, and very forcefully argued too. Someone dissenting will have to expect a hard fight. I just wish that people see that you and Harry are not speaking "the truth". You are just describing something you feel strongly about, as clearly and honestly you can. But the article is not a guideline, or an instruction, or a declaration of faith. It is an argument from people, not from authority.

My view, is to erase the line that this article draws. In the end, SFT too has to be thrown away. And picked up again, with grace. In the pursuit of minimalism, even miminalism might lead to "maximalisation of minimalism" and thus become tense, effortful, tight. The article is crystal-clear, now, let's melt the crystal and let it flow.

Be well
Comment by Mark Mitchell on July 8, 2009 at 22:29
Hi Mark and Harry,

What would Steve say about the article?:) I think he would like it.I liked the clear thinking and its attitude of 'taking a stand on sfbta.' It will be a useful article to give the to the trainees I work with it.
Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on July 7, 2009 at 11:55
Hi Mark and Harry,
thank you so much for this final version, which is really a "golden nugget" to clarify the essence SF work in a clear and simple - but not simplifying - way!
At the same time this article might be provoking not only for professionals of therapy and coaching but also for clients:
As I experience many clients have expectations what should be addressed in coaching (I cannot speak for therapy):
They often expect, that "inner mentalistic aspects" like Beliefs, Attitudes, Motivations, Emotions, Mental Maps, .... are "brought to the surface" and become the central topic of the coaching following the idea: "this is the root of my problem - and this must be changed, otherwise the coaching is not professional". And they also often expect, that "the external structural context" like Family structures and Power structures should be made visible (e.g. with some sort of "constellation work") to understand them and to see if and how such systemic "mechanics" can be changed.

A concern for me now is, to learn more about how to deal with such expectations from clients in a respectful way. How can we "live" with such expectations in one hand and do SF work on the other hand at the same time?

Maybe a topic for a second paper.....
Comment by Bart van Loon on July 7, 2009 at 11:06
Hi Mark,
I liked the article before and I like it even better now!
It's sharp and distinctive. And I also like the 'narrative' anekdotes in it. They make your points stick.
Comment by Stanus Cloete on July 6, 2009 at 16:09
Hi Mark and Harry,
Thank you for an article excellently written. It has cleared a lot of questions in my mind and set to rest a feeling of discomfort I had with a lot of people claiming to do SF but at the same time adhering to other models of therapy. The following sentence (my underlining) says it all for me: "This shows the impossibility of doing problem-solving/diagnostic interviewing and solution focused interviewing at the same time. The difference in relationship brought about by the different orientations is fundamental. To put it another way, one cannot do solution focused therapy work with "la belle indifference".
Thank you again for an excellent article.




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