Youth Services & innovative training for practitioners working with young people

A Solution Focused Approach to Working with ‘Troubled’ Families

Short Course

A Solution Focused Approach to Working with ‘Troubled’ Families

A training programme to enhance service delivery and effect positive change for service users.

Duration: 3 Days
Cost: £294 per person (please enquire about in-house rates)


The ‘troubled family’ agenda

The government has put an emphasis on work with families identified as ‘troubled;’ defined as “those that have problems and cause problems to the community around them.” The government is committed to working with local authorities and their partners to help these troubled families turn their lives around by 2015, ensuring that “the children in these families have the chance of a better life, and at the same time bring down the cost to the taxpayer.”

Some of the actions points identified are to:

  • get children back into school
  • reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour
  • put adults on a path back to work
  • reduce the high costs these families place on the public sector each year

Key to achieving these are the use of effective strategies, and this means recognising that one of these must be to increase the capacity of these families to change, and to support them to develop the skills they need to implement and sustain these changes.

Solution Focused Model: The solution focused model of interventions is underpinned by the belief that real, long lasting change can only be achieved by the family themselves and is based on the recognition that ultimately every family, no matter how troubled, has within itself the strengths, competencies and resources to effect change. The key to successful intervention is to help the family to believe that change is possible, and then to empower and support them to make changes by identifying clear goals, and providing the techniques and skills to finding the quickest way to achieving them. Where the motivation to change is only experienced as an external pressure -as someone else’s agenda, re-enforcing helplessness, dependency and resentment- behavioural change is unlikely to be effective or sustainable and is likely to result in increased dependence on external services or cause a ‘backlash’ impulse.

In solution focused family practice, the practitioner and family work together to formulate their unique way of addressing the given issue(s) according to the specific context of the family’s circumstances, values, beliefs, and culture. The expertise of the solution focused practitioner lies in having access to ways of talking with and thinking about the family that are associated with the family’s ways of resolving their issue(s). The solution focused practitioner works with the family rather than with their problems – helping them to identify their best hopes; looking for their own resources rather than deficits; action planning; exploring possible and preferred futures as well as what the service user is already doing to achieve their goals.

The empowering process encourages service users to take responsibility for their lives thereby reducing short and long-term dependency on support services.


To train and support staff teams to work in a solution focused way with ‘troubled’ families and other service users and empower them to effect positive change in their lives and promoting informed decision-making, resilience and independence.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain a understanding of the philosophy underpinning the solution focused model
  • Explore making effective use of solution focused tools and techniques
  • Identify opportunities to embed the learning in the workplace
  • Reflect on the learning and the practice

Learning Outcomes

Learners will gain an understanding of

  • the context and evolution of the solution focused model
  • the philosophy that underpins the solution focused approach
  • effective solution focused tools and techniques
  • how to make best use of these tools and techniques
  • how to develop their solution focused practice

Programme Content

This is a three day programme. The first two days are successive, the third a week later.

During the first two days we briefly cover the historical context and evolution of the model -its main tenets, core beliefs and components- and explore the use of a number of solution focused tools and techniques. Learners spend the majority of the time practicing the use of the tools and techniques with one another and reflecting on the experience.

The gap until the third session affords learners the opportunity to explore and develop their solution focused practice as per action plans that they will have completed on day 2. This involves trouble-shooting, further reflection and an exploration of how to move an initial intervention forward. We also look at how the model is applied outside the ‘therapeutic’ paradigm; for example, solution focused reflective team practice.

Programme Components

  • Solution Focused training – the model and it’s use
  • Applied use of the Solution Focused Approach
  • Observations of practitioners with one-to-one and/or group feedback
  • Reflection on learning and practice

Learners will explore and practice the following solution focused tools and techniques:

  • empowering service users to establish their best hopes
  • enabling service users to identify their strengths and resources and promote capacity building skills
  • scaling questions
  • the use of the Miracle Question
  • exploring preferred futures
  • action planning
  • reflective practice


  • Clients – capacity building skills, resilience, empowerment
  • Practitioners – new skills
  • Service – more efficient and effective use of resources

To see our list of scheduled courses and to book please see: training:

Do you want to run a tailored version of this training in your organisation? Please enquire about our in-house training rates

Triple Helix Training

0208 -1-333-168