Solution Orientation

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A constructive attitude toward the ideal of empowerment is to concentrate on finding solutions not based on people's deficits or problems but rather on increasing their abilities, for reflecting “solutions to problematic patterns in thought and behaviour - and finding solutions dialogically.”[1]

The more learners are able to realistically describe abilities or opportunities, the more easy they will also find solutions. Facilitators can support this by appreciating the participants’ existing abilities and increasing their ability to identify options and opportunities. In example by consequently asking questions aimed at solutions.[2]

It is consequently limiting the facilitators role as being part of the support system and that of the learner as the central agent and solution finder.

Questions aimed at solutions

“Tell me in which situations ‘the problem’ is a bit smaller!”

“Tell me about the last time this (positive) happened. How did you respond?”

“What will you need to do differently when the situation changes?”

“What would your best friend say, if I asked her what you usually do when the situation changes?”

Being oriented on solutions helps people concentrate on their strengths and adjust their goals more easily[3]

Constructive Questions

Other sets of questions complement a solution-oriented coaching approach.

Difference between Coaching and Advice

Find here some more illustrations how solution focused facilitation with coaching methodology is different from an approach putting more responsibility for solutions to the facilitator (advice)


  1. Maren Fischer-Epe, Coaching: Miteinander Ziele erreichen; Reinbek 2002/2011 p.59
  2. The solution focused coaching approach is strongly influenced by Steve de Shazer and the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Association
  3. N. Zimmermann: Mentoring Handbook - Providing Systemic Support for Mentees and Their Projects; Berlin 2012; MitOst; ISBN 978-3-944012-00-1; p. 28

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Network Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email: