The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

‘I know I can do it’.


Some of you will already know about the work of DBIT in Essex. The service operates across the whole of the authority and when set up in January 2012 DBIT (the name stands for Divisional-Based Intervention Team) were tasked with working with families where young people were seen as being ‘on the edge of care’ – of potentially requiring local authority accommodation. Some of the families were new to Children’s Services intervention and others had had long-standing experience of social workers and social work intervention in their lives. The decision was made from the outset that the service would be Solution Focused and Essex engaged BRIEF to deliver training to the staff team. BRIEF’s (happy and productive) association with DBIT therefore now stretches back over 6 years and during the course of this time in addition to a great deal of in-service training, staff members have also come to BRIEF for training and 11 DBIT staff have undertaken the BRIEF Diploma in Solution Focused Practice. The success of the team, measured in hard outcomes, has ensured that the team has not only survived but has grown.

In February this year they hosted the first national conference on Solution Focused Practice in Statutory Contexts (which we were privileged to take part in) and are currently preparing for the second conference, to take place on 15 February 2019 – a must-attend event in next year’s calendar!

So it was great to read the other day this account from a DBIT team member. It has been anonymised and not even the name of the worker is being disclosed in order to protect confidentiality.
Many thanks to our anonymous author.

Evan George and Harvey Ratner
June 2018

“From the perspective of someone who doesn’t know about SF practice, who would have thought 4 fairly short conversations with a 15 year old, anxious school refuser would support her in thinking differently about attending school?

This young person comes from a family who are very well known to social care and have had a great deal of support over the years. This is where the approach really stood out to me. Through being persistent and believing in the approach I was able to build on the resilience of this young person.

I think this is the reason why the SF approach works so well with school refusers of this age because they don’t like being told what to do, to go to school or to go to lesson, for example. They often have very chaotic home lives as well, for example this young person often supported their mum with caring for siblings, 2 of which have a physical disability, a mum who was and still is battling mental health difficulties and an absent dad. So all you can do is invite the young person to think differently about whatever the problem is, and in the words of brief “maintain the belief that they are the expert of their own life”.

In my last session with L I asked what had been better since the last time we met. L was able to tell me a range of things including how they have managed to better their school attendance and is now attending school 4/5 days a week. I asked how they have managed to do this. L said ‘I know I can do it’.
L is still managing to make it to school even when home life is a bit chaotic. L has a lot of friends at school and they have been pleased to notice L in school more, smiling and laughing. L isn’t on report anymore and is focusing on school work. L has been able to help their younger sibling with attending school after a period of him not attending.

I asked L how confident they were that they will be able to keep things going, with 10 being really confident and 0 being the furthest away from that. L said 10. L was as high as a 10 and not lower because they realised that they are stronger than they thought, L isn’t letting busy mornings get in the way of them coming to school. (L) wants to do better for themselves. I asked what this says about L. L repeated ‘I know I can do it’. I asked L if they feel like they need further support from me and if so what would this look like. L said they don’t need any help (I think this says it all).

After walking out of the school I suddenly felt quite overwhelmed at how this young person had done what they did and knowing how much they struggle at home. Just goes to show how the approach can really strengthen a young person’s resilience in these circumstances and this will most definitely be a case that I won’t forget.”