Solution focused coaching impacts positively on proactive thinking of staff and quality of relationships


We have posted previously about solution focused therapy, where we looked at a small case series study with people with mild learning disabilities. Solution-focused therapy focuses on solutions, rather than on the presenting problems, based on the notion that even for people suffering chronic problems, there are periods when the difficulties do not occur or are less intense.

The researchers in this study looked at Solution-focused coaching. Coaching of course is well established as a methodology in the field of sports and is a developing field in business and organisational development. The authors describe the approach as short-term, future-focused, and person-directed.

They describe 13 cases of solution focused therapy with staff acting in the coaching role for people with severe and moderate learning disabilities.

They took measurements before, directly after and 6 weeks after the coaching in the following areas;

  • progress toward the team goal
  • proactive thinking of staff
  • quality of the relationship between staff and people they supported

What they found was

  • progress toward the team goal in seven of 13 teams
  • improvement of proactive thinking in 5 of 10 teams
  • improvement of the quality of relationships in 7 of 13 teams.

With regard to individual staff members, they found improvement of proactive thinking in 12 of 34 staff members and improvement of the quality of relationships in 22 of 42 staff members.

They suggest that using solution focused coaching stimulates dealing with support problems in a behavioral, proactive way. They also suggest that it can be a helpful approach to building useful relationships.

They suggest the need for further research, ideally using a randomised controlled design, to test whether solution focused caching could help with proactive thinking in teams and positively impact on staff perceptions of people with learning disabilities.

Solution-Focused Coaching of Staff of People With Severe and Moderate Intellectual Disabilities: A Case Series, Roeden J et a., in Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 9: 185–194.


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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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