Exploring what works: Is SF the best way of harnessing the impact of positive psychology in the workplace? by Carey Glass M.Sc, C. Psychol

Contemporary research is demonstrating the power of positive psychology in the workplace. Work linking positive psychology and SF is, however, at its genesis and untested. This article asks two questions: First, does SF operate as a methodology for bringing the fruits of positive psychology into the workplace? Second, if it does, what does this mean for the practice of SF? What aspects should we focus on to maximise what works? This will be examined through the ground breaking work of Barbara Frederickson. Frederickson’s (2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions will be considered and the evidence supporting it outlined. Hypotheses about the links between it, other cognate research and techniques used within SF will be examined to answer these questions.
Special first issue offer – download the paper FREE at http://www.asfct.org/documents/journal/2009-05/exploring_what_works.pdf
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2 Responses to Exploring what works: Is SF the best way of harnessing the impact of positive psychology in the workplace? by Carey Glass M.Sc, C. Psychol

  1. Paolo Terni says:

    Great article!
    The connection between Positive Psychology and SF is definitely worth exploring, and I think Carey did a wonderful job.
    Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions is an excellent starting point, very relevant to SF practitioners

    It also helped me articulate some thoughts that have been popping up in my mind lately.
    Despite the fact that I have been practicing SF for a while, now, it is still a surprise to me how much clients can do on their own – and how the less I do, the better it is. Somehow, deep down, I feel I need to connect the dots for clients; I feel they need to have a specific action plan once the session is over. How can imagining a “preferred future” and identyfing “clues” to solutions be enough??? I can’t see the connections, yet clients seem to have everything figured out!

    This article provides answers to those questions.
    Or at least it provided answers for me: I need scientific evidence that my “scientifically counter-intuitive” practice works.
    The connection between emotions and repertoire of actions, as the author points out, “may provide an explanation for some forms of “stuckness”.
    Of course! Clients shift from a system (a constellation of emotion – thoughts – behaviors) primed to a specific action to another system, where they can play around and get unstuck… it is their inner game, literally.

    Moreover, the article very brilliantly gave me an answer re another question I had: I am “re-discovering” the power of letting clients dwell in their “preferred future”; so, is my practice just a “feel good” trick?
    No, SF is a way to “broaden” clients’ perceptions. Feeling good follows, once clients get “unstuck” and are able to access their memory of the (successful) past experiences and of the (preferred) future.
    SF is a respectful way to elicit positive emotions (vs. “positive thinking”): in SF we invite clients to explore the whole situation with a lot of details, therefore noticing the positive, while in “positive thinking” the practitioner rams the positive he or she sees into the throat of the client.

    Another point that really resonated with me was about the transfer of some SF practices in organizations: Carey is right, sometimes we are shy (or at least I am) about asking the miracle question in organizational settings. I get intimated myself by the business suits and the million-euros budgets. I feel the need to be “practical”. But that can be a mistake. Now I have some form of evidence that I should stick to things that work, like the miracle question. And actually, in the executive coaching session that most made me happy recently, I did go SF all the way, miracle question included, and it worked: the client wanted to at least get a handle of one big problem (and it would take many sesisons, he thought, to work on that). In a little over an hour, he “solved” that and two lesser problems, on top of it!

    Last but not least: I liked very much how the author established connections between SF and scientific research AND then went on to suggest what we could be doing differently or more of on the basis of such a connection: for example, the author wonders “whether we should more purposefully be asking questions about emotions in an SF way”; or asking more third-party questions in ways that elicit emotions.
    I think this is the way to go.
    Exploring connections between scientific research and SF; formulate hypothesis; test them.
    It is a way to go back to the “audaciousness of the early years” as Miller says in his interview…

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