Online Solution Focused Tool: NEW LIVES FROM BROKEN DREAMS

Dear reader,

a couple of weeks ago, we ran a training together with Chris Iveson, co-founder of BRIEF but also my first supervisor, colleague, co-trainer and a dear friend. Soon after I completed my own SF training at BRIEF, we started doing work together – Chris came to teach with me on my Solution Focused training for professionals in Slovenia in years 2016 and 2017, we presenter together at international conferences, I was BRIEF’s guest to teach at their Diploma and other courses, until they offered me to run a course on my own in 2019 and for the past two years, Chris and I have been working together more closely as co-trainers, with the mission to bring Solution Focused Approach to countries, territories and disciplines where access to training is limited unaffordable and/or doesn’t exist at all. As such we travelled, even in the year of Covid (virtually) to Pakistan, India, Iran and are having activities lined up to travel to Africa and more of Asia in 2021.

The course we recently ran together was about Solution Focused Groupwork – Solution Focused approach for group facilitators. We got lucky for having a privilege to work with a group of 35 marvellous, skilled and dedicated practitioners, so we were already confident (and also hopeful) that two days together would have high chances to result in outstanding outcomes that neither of us could predict at the time we were planning the course.

And one Saturday before the course, my first Guardian paper arrived to our house. Chris has been tempting and nudging me with getting a subscription for years and I have no idea what made me finally agree at the beginning of April 2021. But I do believe that things happen for a reason and in the first paper read in my bed while having coffee and strawberries proved this once again. I was reminiscing about our upcoming course, when this article came up. And then in a blink of an eye, an illuminating thought came to link the metaphor of Kintsugi to the work we do in therapy, coaching and group work. I took a screenshot and sent it to Chris with a text saying “Let’s use this in our course!” and so it began. Before I could start putting my thoughts in shape, Chris had already given it a go with a group of trainees he was with. The response was promising and we started talking. Exploring. Wondering. Trying. Thinking. Hoping. More wondering. More trying. Until an exercise with thought through, deliberate and carefully selected questions was born. We offered this exercise to our group and gave it a proper go with the invite, that participants mute their microphones, but say their answers out loud in our common online space. The beauty of group work is that the facilitators will never know how a certain activity and invite will land and what the participants are capable to do and achieve together as a group. Our group made the exercise better, it brought us new metaphors and language, so we moved from an exercise of “A Broken Pot” to “New lives from broken dreams”. We explored the metaphor of “gold” and introduced a metaphor of “mosaic” rather than a reconstructed pot. So our group has merits that we went beyond the “Art of Repair” which is often associated with Kintsugi, to the art creating new lives. We are thankful to our group for testing this exercise and giving us feedback, which made us want to record it and make it publicly available so that more people can use it, either for themselves as a self help tool, or as an activity used in their group work or training where participants have gone through an experience where their dreams were broken, their hopes dashed, their future destroyed and somehow they are still here.

You can view and try the exercise here:

New lives from broken dreams: a new SF tool

There will be a written form of this exercise coming up too, to make it really inclusive. Chris and I are looking forward to seeing it be used, replicated, cited, taken on new levels, so let us know what you think and how you use(d) it.

Meanwhile – we will run the groupwork course again. When? When the time is right!

With love,

Biba and Chris

I’d rather not be right

Dear reader,

just finished another group training, this time young volunteers from different EU and some non-EU countries doing their voluntary projects in Slovenia. We spent five days together, working from 9.30am till 7pm with only a few breaks in-between.

Being young nowadays isn’t easy. Making choices, deciding what to do with/in your life, deciding to dedicate some of your time to do volunteering work, isn’t easy. Then add that it is happening in a foreign country, away from home, loved ones, on a tight budget and without a clear picture of what’s ahead, and you come down to one word: unknown.

I’ve done quite some numbers of similar youth group trainings. And have been a participant in a few myself. As trainers, we’d often have high expectations, presuppositions about the participants as well as theories of who’s in the group and why do they behave the way they do.

For instance, there are always stereotypes about different nationalities. Then there are social stereotypes about young people being spoiled, unmotivated, waiting to be served, not proactive, etc., etc. With such assumptions it’s always clever to figure out who’s the group making those claims. It is almost never the group about which the assumption is about. Funny, isn’t it?

So it happens that people in the group do not follow instructions. Object. Or ask the same things that have just been explained the session earlier. They do not show up on time. They complain about things not being right, yet do not offer how to make them right. And so on. I’m sure you know what I mean.

What each group teaches (reminds) me is that I never want to be “right” again. Even when I might have an assumption, I’d never want to argue or not repeat the instructions again and again and again or be kind even when others aren’t or be patient when someone might not be. What I remember was the most important for me in another country, among people I didn’t know, language I wasn’t fluent in, etc., was not people who were smart about how things should be or would be right about what I should have done. It was people who were kind and there for me, especially when I was clumsy and made mistakes. Who were willing to help me out without me feeling that I should “know this” or that “I’m stupid”. This is probably what mothers are like towards their children. They’d never assume the child will not make it and they are not forcing them to “get it” faster or would not be fed up with them not showing immediate progress. It’s what a gardener might feel when planting the seeds. They need whole lot of water, warmth, sunshine and care, before they can bloom.

Groups are inspiring, but can also be stressful. Lots of people together, lots of persuasion, dominance, cooperation, competition, comparison, manipulation even. Lots of fighting about whose opinion matters more and who is right or wrong. Fighting to have a say. To be the leader. Or to hide, to detach oneself from the group or to lose interest because it is going too slow or too fast. Again, not easy. As a trainer, it is important to capture this and try giving space so that each individual in the group can feel welcomed, encouraged and to find their unique place in the group. And in order to make that possible, one has to do away with our own fight, ego and being viewed as an expert, even when in trainer’s role. One has to give the expertise to the group and before this, offer the group space so that they recognise they (can) own it. And when they do, this is what group work is all about. The essence of human existence and connectedness. And I love it, every single time and with every single training I’m privileged to be a part of.

So I never want to be right again.

Thank you Slovenian National Agency for having me as your trainer again and thank you dear participants and my co-trainer to make it a unique and enjoyable event. Best of luck and hope to he

Biba

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Our participants. Quite inspiring, isn’t it?

My first course at BRIEF

Dear reader,

I like groups. Groups are powerful. Inspiring. Challenging. Tribal. Connecting. Caring.

Working with groups can be a delight. Working with groups applying Solution Focused Approach can be miraculous. If you are a practitioner (therapist, coach or consultant), trainer, counsellor, teacher or connector and would like to explore how to use Solution Focused Approach with groups, then this will be the course for you. Have a look here.

BRIEF is the world leading training centre in Solution Focused Practice. And this is my first course as its international trainer.

See you in London. This is an event we will never forget. And neither will you. So be with us when it happens, not to miss this opportunity when others will talk about it months or perhaps years after.

Biba and BRIEF