Design and Facilitation of a Learning Activity
The objective of the learning activity is to engage the group in an experiential exercise, and in critical reflection, related to some aspect of social work practice. There are two sample learning activities that has been uploaded for this work. please have a look at them.
PART A: Options for online learning activities include:
Interactive activity based on a specific reading(s) or website(s) assigned in the
Interactive activity based on a reading (preferably brief) or web resource
introduced by the student facilitator
Interactive activity based on a case study developed by the student facilitator
Online role play developed by the student facilitator (e.g. facilitation of a
simulated group, family or organizational meeting)
Online poetry slam initiated and guided by the student facilitator
Online debate moderated by the student facilitator
Any other ideas for engaging group members in experiencing and reflecting on
Try something new!
The facilitator will post the instructions for the learning activity on Monday of the designated week. The learning activity should present a clearly defined task, for example:
Read the following article(s) and answer these questions…
Visit this website and reflect on the following…
Read the case study and answer these questions…
Read the scenario and take the role of … in a discussion and debriefing
The learning activity should give students the opportunity to respond to critical questions related to the weekly topic. You are encouraged to integrate the Unit’s posted Learning Activities and questions as part of the design of your Activity.
As facilitator, your role is to:
Clearly outline the task
Share your own thoughts and invite group members to respond
Encourage and moderate group discussion ( for me to do)
Encourage critique of the framework and concepts presented
PART B? Should be done after i send some response from the group of the task i put up which will be few days after this is due.)
Wrap up the learning activity with a summary of the discussion, including your
critical reflections on the process (what you learned from the experience) on Monday of the following week
Ability to design a learning activity that engages students and demonstrates creativity, clarity and critical thinking
Ability to demonstrate group facilitation skills, including stimulating and encouraging participation, addressing the group’s learning needs, being willing to consider other viewpoints/positions and to challenge ideas
Ability to demonstrate timeliness, dependability and regularity, in facilitating the learning activity and in providing a summary that reflects the themes of the discussion, makes specific connections with the Unit topic, and comments on how the activity has influenced your thinking and learning
Unit Readings and Articles
(Please read in the following order after reading the Unit Notes)
Brun, C. & Rapp, R. (2001). Strengths-Based Case Management: Individuals’ Perspectives on Strengths and Case Manager Relationship. Social Work, 46(3). 278-288. (this article has been uploaded)
Lietz, Cynthia. (2007). Strengths-based group practice: Three case studies. Social Work With Groups, 30(2). 73-87. (This article has been uploaded)
Edwards, S. & Turnell, A. (n.d.). The signs of safety approach to child protection casework. (has been uploaded)
Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association
Working with strengths and solutions:Unit 4
A strengths perspective on social work practice is based on the assumption that people and communities inherently possess strengths, abilities and inner resources that can be identified, mobilized and used to create growth and change. This unit will consider examples of direct practice from this perspective in various contexts. The construction of solution-oriented questions will also be explored.
By the end of this unit, you will be able to:
• Describe strengths-based social work and solution-oriented practice
• Evaluate these practices with respect to critical and anti-oppressive social work and your developing personal framework
• Formulate collaborative and solution-oriented questions
The strengths perspective, whether implemented with individuals, families, groups or communities, maintains a positive focus on resources, abilities, successes and growth. This does not mean that trauma, struggle and oppression are ignored, but neither is their potential to provide opportunities for change.
Choosing to focus on strengths rather than deficits may be preferable to those under the postmodern umbrella, where social constructionism suggests that our assumptions about reality develop through communication –language and discourse –within a social context. Social constructionist practitioners are interested in using language, especially questions, to elicit, amplify and acknowledge client abilities, skills and wisdom that may have been previously unrecognized. This process of collaborative redescription of experience creates new perceptions of reality, including workable solutions for the immediate problem.
Solution-focused or solution-oriented practitioners implement a strengths perspective by shifting the conversation away from problem solving, to engaging clients in the construction of solutions. As the late innovator Insoo Kim Berg explained,
We learned a long time ago that when there is a problem, many professionals spend a great deal of time thinking, talking, and analyzing the problems, while the suffering goes on…We discovered that problems do not happen all the time. Even the most chronic problems have periods or times when the difficulties do not occur or are less intense. By studying these times when problems are less severe or even absent, we discovered that people do many positive things that they are not fully aware of. By bringing these small successes into their awareness and repeating the successful things they do when the problem is less severe, people improve their lives and become more confident about themselves. (Berg, I., n.d., paragraph 1)
While this may seem quite straightforward and simple, it requires a paradigm shift for many social workers and students whose aspirations to help people are bound up with solving problems. “For many, making the shift is like going from doing things right-handed to doing them left-handed,”(De Jong & Berg, 1).
The move from “problem talk”to “solution talk”is accomplished through a process of collaborative inquiry, in which particular kinds of questions are used. De Jong and Berg point out, however, that it is easier to understand the differences theoretically than it is to make the shift in practice. While the technology of questioning may be readily grasped, the art of sustaining a solution-oriented collaborative conversation requires practice –like all arts. Asking the questions in a mechanical way as if ticking them off a list would be like reading a script in a monotone. However, reading the script is the necessary first step in taking on a role.
With this caveat in mind, read and consider the solution-oriented questions below, with specific examples of their use.
Goal Questions –to help people articulate their understanding of problem resolution
What needs to happen for us to stop meeting like this?
How will you know if this work has been successful?
What will you be doing? How will others know you have changed?
Scaling Questions –to elicit continual feedback and assessment, and help people notice changes or gray areas in the problem situation
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being no depression, and one being the most depressed you could be, where have you been this past week?
What would it take to get you to have a “seven”week instead of a “six”?
Difference Questions –to highlight differences and encourage people to compare and evaluate aspects of the problem, exceptions, or solutions
So how was that different from the way you have usually handled it?
How did this difference help or hinder the situation?
Exception Questions –to elicit descriptions of times when things went differently from the usual problem situation
Can you recall a time when you felt like bingeing, but managed to resist the urge for awhile?
Can you tell me about a time when John surprised you or himself by sitting quietly?
Description Questions –asking person to describe the situation in observable terms
How did you know that he was having a better day? What would I have seen on a videotape on that day?
How would I know she was “passive aggressive”?
Smaller Step Questions –to help people focus on process rather than end results
What has been happening since our last meeting (or between when you called and today) that you would like to see continue in your life?
What is the first sign you will see that you are working towards recovering from depression?
What kinds of things might be happening in the next week that would suggest you’re headed in the right direction?
The miracle question:
Suppose one night there is a miracle while you are sleeping and the problem that brought you here is solved. What do you suppose you will notice the next morning that will tell you that the problem is solved?
(Madsen, 2009; O’Hanlon, 2005)
Besides asking direct questions, solution-oriented practitioners utilize other language skills that help to promote solution building. De Jong and Berg suggest the following as lead-in possibilities:
How will things be different?
What will you notice about…
I am not certain, do you suppose….
Is it possible that…?
How do you want your life to be different?
What will you do instead?
How did you do that?
How did you figure out how to do that?
What did your colleagues, supervisors, family, boss notice?
So . . .
When things are different . . .
How would that be helpful?
What tells you that you are better?
What is better?
Tell me about. . .
How can I be helpful?
What would be helpful?
(De Jong & Berg, n.d.)
As you ponder and perhaps experiment with these questions, and explore the readings, websites and video clips, think about the possibilities for using strengths-based and solution-oriented practices as part of your own critical framework. These practices have been heavily critiqued –from a traditional perspective, for being overly optimistic to the point of ignoring serious problems or reframing them as strengths, and from a more critical perspective, for overlooking power relations and issues related to difference. Would the miracle question, for example, be cruelly inappropriate for people living in poverty or with a challenging disability? The insistence on brevity of service and relentless focus on “solution talk”can result in a somewhat mechanical formula (as Insoo Berg warned), while rigid avoidance of discussing problems can leave people feeling that their situations have been minimized or trivialized.
Response-based therapist Allan Wade (2008) critiques the use of this model with victims of violence:
Solution focused folks sometimes don’t like to talk about problems, like violence, but prefer to move straight on to so-called solutions. This is a problem in my view because for many victims, it is important to talk about the violence and experience some acknowledgment…[When they] do talk about the violence, in my view they do not bring a critical analysis to that conversation. Consequently, they do not identify the victim’s resistance as such but tend to stick more with coping, surviving, recovering, resilience – metaphors that do not suggest any resistance by the victim and so leave intact the stereotypical image of the passive victim that is so prominent in legal, therapeutic, and public discourse. (Wade, 2008)
In fact, many solution-oriented practitioners maintain that they are showing respect to the client by addressing the specific issues presented as problems, without reference to the social context except as it provides support for solutions. Politicization of the client is viewed as unnecessary and inappropriate. (Miller, 2007)
Where do you stand on this issue? Are you still under the postmodern umbrella?
Berg, I., (n.d.), What is solution-focused therapy?, retrieved from http://www.sfbta.org/aboutsfbt.html
De Jong, P. & Berg, I. K. (n.d.) Learners’workbook for: Interviewing for solutions.
Thomson Brooks/Cole, retrieved from http://www.sfbta.org/
Madsen, W. A model of collaborative clinical practice, retrieved from http://www.yaletownfamilytherapy.com/therapeutic/index.php#billmadsenhandouts
Miller, R. (2007). Developing Skills and Knowledge in Family Practice. Course Manual.
O’Hanlon, B. Workshop handouts, retrieved from http://billohanlon.com/, 2005
Wade, A. (2008). Online discussion, SOCW 477, July 2008.
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