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A solution-focused approach to behaviour

What is the solution-focused approach?
On the Individual Behaviour Development Plan (IBDP) there are scales from 1 to 10 to help you evaluate the current situation and determine realistic next steps. Scaling is taken from the solution-focused approach to behaviour, a distinctive problem-solving model that is based upon a number of key assumptions:

  • The orientation of thinking and discussions is upon the present and future - not the past.
  • The problem is less important than what will be happening when the problem no longer exists.
  • There will be occasions when the behaviour that is problematic either doesn't exist or does so to a lesser extent - these are called exceptions.
  • Change is inevitable - and positive change possible.
  • Sometimes only the smallest of changes is necessary to set in motion a solution to the problem.
  • Focusing upon signs of positive change, no matter how small, is likely to produce further positive changes.
  • Problem-solving is a collaborative process - between the adults (staff, parents/carers, others) and the pupil.
  • Change is inevitable - and positive change possible.

Click here for further information on how the solution-focused approach interlinks with both the cycle of development and transactional analysis, the school of psychology it is rooted in.

Scaling
The main strategy used in solution-focused thinking is scaling. It is a particularly effective way of creating a picture as to where things are at present and where people would hope it to be in the future. As such, it lends itself to identifying the positives that are already happening - and helps to inform effective targets.

When using scaling, the numbers themselves are not important in terms of their numerical value. They are simply a tool to focus the discussion.

1_______________________________________________________________10

Stage 1: Setting the parameters

  • '10' is how things would be when the behaviour(s) is no longer a concern, 1 is the complete opposite (note the optimistic language - 'when the behaviour is no longer a concern'
  • Create a clear description as to what 10 would look like:
    • What will the pupil be seen doing (as opposed to not doing)?
    • What will the adults around him be doing? What will you see/hear?
    (Don't spend time describing what '1' looks like - simply describe this as '1 is the complete opposite to 10'.)

 

Stage 2: The current situation

  • If '10' is your preferred future, and '1' is the complete opposite, where would you place things at the moment? (this will be point 'x') (Allow time for people to express any frustrations etc they might have with the current situation)
  • What tells you that it is at 'x' and not at '1'?
    Build up a detailed picture - when are the times when the behaviour causing concern doesn't exist or exists to a lesser extent? What is the pupil doing?
  • When are things better?/When is the behaviour less of a concern?
  • What do these times tell you about the pupil's internal resources - what skills do you see evidence of, however small?
  • What else helps things to be at this point on the scale rather than at '1'? (external resources - particular style of learning; working in a small group; allocation of support etc etc)

 

Stage 3: Next steps:

  • What would be the first sign that things were moving forward? OR
  • What would you see if things improved just a little step?
  • What would tell you that things had moved to 'x + 1'?
  • What will you see the pupil doing?
  • What will other people be doing (that might contribute towards this movement?)
  • What else will be happening?
  • What would be a 'good enough' point on the scale?

 

Stage 4: Review (some of these questions are included on the Review section of the IBDP)

  • Where are things now on the scale?
  • What are you seeing the pupil doing that leads you to place things here? - what behaviours are you seeing less of - and more importantly more of?
  • What else?
  • And what else? (This can be a very useful question to dig deeper - hence the repetition)

 

If things have not moved from point 'x', the following questions might help:

  • What has helped to keep things from slipping back?
  • When are things just a bit better? (exceptions)

 

Stage 5: Further next steps:

  • Which point of the scale is the next target? (including sustaining things at the new point)
  • Repeat the questions from Stage 3

 

The solution-focused approach to behaviour neatly complements both the cycle of development theory and also Transactional Analysis (TA), the school of psychology it is rooted in. This is most clearly seen when the assumptions each of the three are based upon are considered alongside each other:

Solution- focused thinking
  • The orientation of thinking and discussions is upon the present and future - not the past
  • The problem is less important than what will be happening when the problem no longer exists.
  • There will be times when the behaviour that is seen to be problematic either doesn't exist or does so - but to a lesser extent. These are called exceptions.
  • Change is inevitable - and positive change possible.
  • Sometimes only the smallest of changes is necessary to set in motion a solution to the problem.
  • Focusing upon signs of positive change, no matter how small, is likely to produce further positive changes.
  • Problem-solving is a collaborative process - between the adults (staff, parents/carers, others) and the pupil.
Cycle of Development
  • It takes a lifetime to grow up
  • Development is cyclical as opposed to linear - with opportunities to revisit stages and tasks
  • Times of transition or change provide particularly potent times to revisit developmental stages and tasks 
  • It is the responsibility of the entire community to raise its children - not just the parents.
Transactional Analysis

 

  • 'I'm OK, You're OK' -'I am OK with myself and you are OK with me; I respect and accept myself and trust you to do the same to me'
  • Everyone has the capacity to think/learn
  • Everyone has the potential to change/grow
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