Solution Focused Practice

Labelling in child mental health diagnosis

I recently attended a conference on children’s services within Glasgow where 2 of the keynote speakers highlighted the need to shift away from “labelling” or diagnosing mental health problems in children and move towards “case formulations”. They proposed that we should be thinking from the outset, in partnership with the child and their family about what the difficulties are that need to change and what goals we would like to achieve (ie what changes do we want to see in the child’s mood, behaviour, presentation etc). We would then move on to think about how we are most likely to achieve these goals.

A major shift in practice in child mental health diagnosis

As a social work manager, this shift in approach is already being used within multi-agency meetings I attend within education. It has meant a major shift in practice away from long conversations about the child and their difficulties, to looking at strengths, goals and actions. This has allowed us to be more efficient in terms of use of time and more productive in terms of outcomes from the meetings. Within social work, this approach is also being used both at team meetings with staff as well as meetings with children and their families.

Focus on solutions, not the problem

This struck me as being very similar to the CBT approach. Talking through the presenting issue/problems with the person and identify what changes they would like to achieve so that they are able to live happier, more fulfilling lives. I think one of the benefits of this approach is that it doesn’t focus too much on the problem or the causes of the problem, but rather on what solutions or changes that can be made to achieve one’s goals, with clearly agreed actions being taken forward for the next week to put in place and review.

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