The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

Sharing credit: try it yourself.

When I think of Ben Furman one thing that comes to mind, amongst many other things, is his concept of ‘sharing credit’, enhancing the ripple effect of change in systems by asking people, when they have reported changes, ‘so who helped you to make these changes?’. Once people identify those others who have helped them an obvious follow-up question that we can choose to ask is ‘and have you let him/her/them know just how useful he/she/they have been to you?’. This idea of course chimes with some ideas that are familiar to us from Narrative Therapy, ‘who stands with you in resisting the power of (problem) in your life?’, and with ideas for concretizing the recognition of change developed by Denise Yusuf and set out in the book jointly authored with our colleague Harvey Ratner, Brief Coaching with Children and Young People (2015). Letting people know how they have helped us tends to strengthen the relationship, increase the frequency of the supportive behaviour and to build resilience in relationships. Saying ‘thank-you – I really appreciate what you have done – it has really made a difference to me’ is a little like putting relational credit in the bank, credit that can be drawn upon when life is difficult, when we are going through rough patches, and when we are behaving in a more challenging way. Although not exclusively of use with adolescents, indeed far from, young people expressing their appreciation to the adults around them, parents, foster carers, teachers and so on, means that relationships seem less likely to fracture at times of stress – the relational credit can be drawn upon (as it were) at those tough times to get us though.

So here is an opportunity to have a go yourself. You will need a quiet 30 minutes to complete this exercise, 30 minutes the effects of which may ripple on and make those minutes a very worthwhile investment.

Bring to mind the 5 people in your life who support the emergence of the very best of you, the people who encourage you in the direction that you know to be right for you, the direction that you would wish to see strengthening as you gaze into the future.

Think about each of these people in turn and answer for yourself a number of simple questions.

What has each of them done that you appreciate?

What is the unique way that each of them has of strengthening you, of encouraging you down the path that is right for you?

In what way does each of them connect with the best of you?

In what way might each of these people have inspired you?

What does each of them see in you that encourages you and how do they let you know in a way that works well for you?

And when you have thought about each of them ask yourself the question ‘what would be the very best way to let each of them know how much I appreciate the way that they have touched on my life?’.

You might enjoy it!

With thanks to Ben and to Denise (and Harvey).

Ratner, Harvey and Yusuf, Denise (2015) Brief Coaching with Children and Young People: a Solution Focused approach. London: Routledge.

Evan George


Originally published on 04 November 2018 this piece has been substantially revised.

12th November 2023


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