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Solution-focused interviewing and counselling: the answers are inside us.

by Melissa Martin, B.A. B.Ed. TEFL
Bilingual career coach

In my quest to elevate my professional profile and strive to be an expert in the counselling field, I used the six degrees of separation. A colleague recommended that I complete certification in solution-focused interviewing and counselling training, delivered by Dr. Ronald Warner, from the Dept. of Social Work at the University of Toronto.

SFI revolutionized my whole approach to dealing with clients and unequivocally, transformed my desire to refrain from using “problem-based, advice seeking” career counselling, to a results-oriented methodology. And that is what SFI signifies. It is designed to modify clients’ frame of reference from the past, to a preferred future.

The SFI avoids the predominant helping approach of “problem talk,” which only amplifies clients’ difficulties and barriers. Dr. Warner’s observation of problems still resonates with me: “No problem exists 24/7 except for chronic pain and terminal illness.” Whatever issues clients  face, it is imperative that the SFI career practitioner accentuate the positive during a client session. Clients’ capacity to change relates directly to embracing a more positive outlook.

Integral to the SFI methodology is the Buddhist notion of the practitioner not taking an expert or “not knowing” stance, which encourages clients to arrive at their own solutions.No easy feat for career practitioners who wish to “solve” clients’ problems!

The tri-phase SFI model succeeds with diverse populations: from those who suffer from mental illness, to substance abusers to the chronically under or unemployed.

By popular demand, Melissa Martin will return to the conference in January 2010, to deliver another fast-paced SFI training seminar.

Melissa Martin works as a bilingual Employment Co-ordinator at the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre. Most recently, she launched to offer customized individual and group coaching and interactive teleseminars.

Melissa’s summary includes over eleven years’ experience in employment services, where she offers career coaching and a SF approach to her clients.Her popular blog is

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