Northwest Brief Therapy Training Center
FRS PHASE I: SOLUTION-FOCUSED QUESTIONS
The Family Reconciliation Services intake form (Children and Family Services, Family Reconciliation Services Phase II) provides an excellent opportunity to ask solution-focused questions of families in distress that will allow for a productive meeting and orientation of the family to become more aware of their own resources, skills and abilities while addressing the serious challenges they typically face.
Asking the following questions will allow intake workers to start in a hopeful and respectful manner that can build rapport with family members rapidly and improve their chances for a successful outcome.
Hints: Keep in mind that you are asking questions that are difficult for clients to answer, so be patient. Once a family member gives an answer, ask for more examples, instances and details until they can’t think of any more.
Reason for referral (precipitating event):
After getting information about the precipitating event, several questions will orient the client(s) to defining what they want as well as what is wrong:
- “What gives you the idea this is a solvable problem?”
- “Is there any time when the problem does not happen or is better?” Followup: “What is different then?”
- “How did you figure out to contact us to help you with this problem?”
Mother’s Objectives (specific & behavioral):
- “How do you want this problem to be different?” (ask for specific details)
- “What will be different when this problem is solved?” “What will happen instead?”
- “How will you know that you have been successful in overcoming this problem?”
- “How will other family members know this problem is solved?” “Who else will notice?”
- “How will you know this problem is even a little bit better?” “How will others know?”
- ”On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the problem at its very worst and 10 is the problem solved, where on the scale are you now?” “How far along are you in the solution to the problem?” (Once client gives answer above 0, ask “What is better so that it is (the number) rather than 0?
(FRS Phase I: Solution-focused Questions, Page 2)
Child’s Objectives (specific and behavioral):
You can ask the child, depending on age and developmental considerations, most of the questions directed at the mother or caregiver. In addition, you can ask these child-specific questions,
- “How will your parent(s) know the problem is solved?”
- “What do you know about yourself that tells you that you can overcome this problem (have the problem be better)?”
- “What is the best you can be?” (if the child is the identified patient or seen as part of the problem)
- “What will your (friends, teachers, other adults) notice is different when the problem is solved?”
Social Worker’s Objectives (specific and behavioral):
Goals for successful treatment, especially with a voluntary referral, are always negotiated rather than imposed unilaterally on the client(s). But, it may be necessary to point out requirements that must be met by law. If that is the case, ask the clients how they plan to accommodate those requirements in their goal picture rather than imposing the requirements independently of their goal.
- “What resources does the family already have available?”
- “How will you know the family has made improvements?”
- “What do you know about the family that gives you hope (even in a small way)?”
- “How is the family doing now? (0-10 scale)” “What would 1 number higher look
- “Is the family willing to do most of the hard work?”
- "What about your previous counseling was helpful to you (even a little bit)?"
- "What did you learn from previous counseling?"
- "How did you make the counseling useful to yourself (your family)?"
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