The InterAction Collection

Treasured Article - A Jewel From the Treasure Chest of SF Articles

Review of Peter Szabo’s 1999 article on Brief Coaching by Kati Hankovszky

Sep 8, 2020

Katalin Hankovszky and peter-szabo

A review of Peter Szabó’s article by Katalin Hankovszky

Peter’s article (see PDF below) was first published in German in the late 90’s, in Switzerland. The primer publication contained a larger coaching study, conducted in client organisations of the publisher, and further articles on coaching. The only article on a single specific coaching approach was this one on Solution Focused Brief Coaching by Peter. The article was spread also in English for several years as a description of solution focused conversations in the context of coaching. In this journal we are publishing the article for the first time in English.

This article was written at the very end of the 1990s and can be seen in two different emerging processes. As part of the development of coaching, and as reusing Solution Focused Brief Therapy for non-therapeutic settings.

Coaching in today’s sense occurred since the 1990s in Europe. Originally defined as a setting: “a confidential conversation between a leader on a higher hierarchy level and an external person for supporting the first” (Geissler:2009) coaching developed fast and quickly arose as a format for supporting other groups in organizations – later also outside of organizations and outside of the context of work. Geissler points out that coaching developed as an umbrella term, without further specification about what actually happens between coach and client. The careful description by Peter allows a hint about what this particular way of coaching looks like in a session.

In the middle of the 1990s I was an excited reader of Insoo Kim Berg’s books and a struggling reader of Steve de Shazer’s. Workbooks on solution focused counselling with kids or families allowed me further practical hints on how solution focus might work in a (counselling) conversation.

In this intense discovery period, Peter’s text came as a consequent description of that other and ‘new’, solution building paradigm. After some research in the literature, I see his article at the beginning of describing solution focused conversations as ‘coaching’, picking examples and research evidence which fit with the grammar of organisations. So, this article in my view is the very moment of emergence of conversations which we today still call Solution Focused (brief) Coaching.

The same emergence is also displayed in the change of the title between first and second edition of Paul Z. Jackson and Mark McKergow’s joint book, (The Solution Focus: The Simple Way to Positive Change (2002) to The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE (2006).

From my view of today, this treasured article shows a remarkable methodology for describing solution focused work. Using directly the voice of the author, offering the perspective of single cases, describing mainly what’s wanted (instead of problematising what is not working optimally), using a tentative language – all this allows the perspective on something still developing: Solution Focused Brief Coaching. Peter elegantly demonstrates how to build on the work of others by quoting empirical results of other studies. The article even contains a case of not-coaching and so gives us a glimpse of the development of Peter’s coaching practice – and proposes even further development.

Dear reader, wishing you a nice reading – and listening to the early voice of solution focus in organizations.

Kati Hankovszky

Katalin Hankovszky, MA, PCC, is a coach, coach trainer, and solution focused practitioner. With a background in philology and educational sciences she has worked independently since 1995. Based in Switzerland, she is a part of an international network, Solutionsurfers, and has offered coach training in Hungary since 2010, with activities in consultancy and book publishing. After many years of work in the business environment Katalin started her PhD studies to bridge her experiences with the academic world. Her main interest is how we learn from our work and how we can make useful what we have learned, for the next client.

Editor’s note

While the original article was written in German in 1998/1999, the English article we publish in PDF below is a slightly updated version of Peter’s article from the early 2000s.

Coaching - Reduced to the Maximum by Peter Szabó

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pdf: Introduction to Solution-Focused Brief Coaching

Katalin Hankovszky
Katalin Hankovszky
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Katalin Hankovszky Christiansen M.A., PCC is an independent trainer and coach. Coming from a pedagogical background, she has work in the business and training environments since 1995.