Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Solution Focused Linkfest

Among the most promising of the short-term approaches to behavior change are solution-focused techniques. These emphasize the ways in which becoming mired in problems help to maintain those problems in a self-reinforcing cycle. Instead of "diagnosing" problems and offering help for these, solution-focused practitioners search for the *exceptions* to these problem patterns. It's what people are doing when they're *not* having problems that often leads the way to solutions. Best of all, these are the individual's solutions, not ones arbitrarily determined by a coach or counselor.

A classic example of someone who could benefit from solution-focused work would be a married couple who is having arguments and relationship problems. A solution-focused approach would be to assess what each member of the couple is doing when their relationship is going well--and then build that out as a template for tackling situations that have been difficult.

Similarly, when I work in a solution-focused mode, I realize that traders often are all too aware of their foibles and problems. Indeed, they can be so caught up in what they're doing wrong that they've lost sight of their strengths. In the solution-focused mode, I review a trader's results with that trader. Together, we figure out what he/she does best and how we can apply that to challenging situations.

In short, solution-focused methods build on strengths. They don't try to remedy problems.

Here are some readings on solution-focused work that you might find useful:

* This is a chapter from my book The Psychology of Trading that describes a solution-based perspective.

* Here is a blog post introducing the solution framework;

* Here is a personal example of how I've used the solution-focused approach;

* This is a nice overview of the solution work;

* This offers a bit more detail about the how-to aspects;

* Here's a review of outcome studies that's a few years old, but relevant.

People tend to view psychologists as "shrinks" who analyze and treat problems. The goal of solution-focused work, however, is to expand competencies. Most important of all, people can learn to apply these approaches to themselves in all areas of life. More on that soon to come.