A Signal In The Distance, To Whom It May Concern*



I’m trying something a little different this time around; a short video blog (or ‘vlog’). There’s a transcript and further discussion below. This also marks the launch of my new YouTube channel, here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI_dwh-vpxOznEI5IvVFH6Q/featured

It is intended as an introductory piece beginning to explain the solution focused approach, or at least my personal take on it. It seems to me as good a place to start as any!

It is primarily aimed at anyone with an interest in using the solution focused approach in their work. This includes coaches, therapists, counsellors, nurses, social workers, doctors, youth workers, business consultants, tutors, supervisors, mentors and probably many more professionals and volunteers I haven’t thought of in the moment whilst writing this!

There’s an application for this approach in the context of any conversation between people in which talking leading to hopes becoming reality is sought, and particularly where a practitioner wishes to ensure they are working in an ethical, compassionate, respectful, empowering and efficient way.


“Over my shoulder you might be able to see there’s a radio telescope.

It’s on top of a space centre, and inside that building scientists are trying to make new discoveries about the universe.

When they analyse the data that’s collected by that radio telescope, sometimes they’ll see things which look familiar.

In order to make new discoveries it’s very important that they don’t know, that they try very hard not to know what it is they’re looking at, and just take it for what it is.

And when we’re talking to people, in our conversations, in the course of our work, it’s very important that we do the same thing. That we just listen to people, listen to the words they’re using.

Even though we might have some interpretation, even though they might sound familiar, it’s very important that we decide not to know, and we just listen.

And that’s how new discoveries are made.”

Further discussion:

I would like to add something about those discoveries.

The only discoveries we need to pay attention to are the specific words used by the person we’re talking with, which they provide in their answers to our questions, and which they use to describe the version of themselves they are hoping to realise.

Whatever meaning or significance any of those words has for us is important to put aside. We simply listen out for them, note them, and collect them. Even if they sound familiar, or remind us of things we’ve heard or experienced ourselves before, the best way for us to remain on a direct course in providing a useful interaction is to choose to stay in the moment, remaining aware of the context of listening, collecting and conversing with the person in front of us.

We are simply using discovered words to carefully construct useful questions.

To be conversing in a solution focused way, this is what we must choose to do instead of taking perhaps enjoyable but not particularly relevant or useful detours through our own interpretations, theories, philosophies, memories and other imaginings. It takes discipline and charity, but it is also often enjoyable for all participants in the conversation, and perhaps most important of all, it works!

The reason we stick to using as many of the other persons words as we can, regardless of any irrelevant interpretation we might feel tempted to entertain, is so that whatever meaning and significance that person attaches to their words in that moment echoes, reverberates and becomes amplified for them.

Our intention is that through this process the preferred version of themselves they are realising in their mind comes closer to their noticed reality through definition, through being talked about out loud using specific defining words. They increasingly hear themselves being referred to as that version of themselves, and referring to themselves in the same way. This often seems to build confidence in the existence of that version of themselves, so that their gaze shifts towards noticing the evidence that they are that version of themselves, leading to their consistent identifying as that version of themselves, and eventually realising that they truly are that person.


*(taken from the line “Your signal in the distance, to whom it may concern” from ‘Walk’ by Foo Fighters – a particularly solution focused song!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s