Using the solution-focused approach, empowerment takes place in the very first meeting and keeps everyone focused on the direction of choice.


The solution focused approach is a mindset.

In problem-focused approaches, the mindset is to figure out why a student is not successful or misbehaving, instead of looking in a variety of contexts for times when things are working. As a result, teachers and school counselors often become discouraged when the strategies that they develop don’t work. The solution focused mindset assists teachers and school counselors to notice times when things are slightly better.

This major change of mindset not only offers solutions, but changes the relationship between teacher and student, which amplifies the possibilities for lasting change.

The solution focused approach brings teachers and students together in the first conversation, to identify their combined best hopes and imagine a preferred future. This inclusive approach with students empowers and motivates them, since the best hopes are theirs. As a result, the student is more likely to follow through and the new relationship between teacher and student results in new interactions.

For example, using the solution focused approach, a twelve year old with repetitive behavior problems would be asked: "tell me about times when you don't let the behavior take you over...what is different then? What do you do, where are you, what are you thinking about, what are your parents or teachers doing?"

At first, the twelve year old may be taken back. After all, who asks the student when he/she is successful? But as the school counselor perseveres and stays patient, solutions emerge:

"When I am in science class. I like that class because we are in pairs and it’s not boring."

"When I am in Ms. Tatum's class. She likes me and when I raise my hand, she calls on me."

"At football practice- I always do what the coach says because I don't want to run laps."

These "exceptions" to times when the negative behavior happens become clues for change. The school counselor can then see what Ms. Tatum and the science teacher and the coach do that encourages success. And, the student is empowered because he has discovered for himself that things are not always as bad as he thought. This contributes to his social emotional learning and develops self-efficacy. When the school counselor meets with his team (recommended) and shares these exceptions with the student present, the system changes, now looking through a new lens at the student, and, themselves.

The workshops described, are constantly updated to accommodate new developments and initiatives in schools, such as social emotional learning, growth mindset and grit, virtual learning and all new initiatives, which can be integrated with the solution focused approach. Through the integration, administrators, teachers and school counselors acquire a new that touts the student and parent as the expert. This mindset increases motivation as engagement and relationships evolve between staff and students.

Include a solution focused school climate program for your professional development this year. These workshops are applicable to your needs, too, wherever you are, as Dr. Metcalf will visit with you prior to the workshop and tailor make the workshop to insure success on your campus.

Practical tools and strategies for school counselors to help students achieve their goals

Practical tools and strategies for school counselors to help students achieve their goals

Fort Worth, TX


[email protected]

Fort Worth, TX

(817) 690-2229

[email protected]

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