The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

Straightening the line

If you want to get from point A to point B, but know no details of the terrain in between, the best thing to do is to assume that you can go from A to B by following a straight line. If this assumption proves faulty and you run into huge mountains, then you need to look for a pass that is as close as possible to your original straight line. As William of Ockham might say, never introduce complex descriptions when simple ones will do.

- Steve de Shazer

Clues: Investigating Solutions in Brief Therapy p 150

I am particularly fond of this quotation. It fits with what I think Chris, Harvey and I have been up to for the last 15 years. Having tried to learn the approach, something that perhaps took us (well me at least) 10 years or so, we have then spent the past 15 years concentrating on straightening out a few seeming kinks, twists and bends in the line, trying our best to make it a little straighter. Starting with the ‘best hopes’ question, and prioritising what we came to refer to as ‘instances’ (little bits of the preferred future happening), over ‘exceptions’ (times the problem does not), seemed to us to make the conversation a little more direct. And of course, following Steve’s bias towards simplicity we came to question the necessity of the ‘miracle’ question and to wonder about the necessity of what used to be referred to as ‘compliments and tasks’.

So many of the later developments of SFBT are ‘previewed’ in Steve’s writings.


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