The InterAction Collection

Staging the imagination

A ‘dramatic’ approach to SF

Jul 22, 2023

Vonneke Beeker & Anton Stellamans

Workshop on Staging the Imagination.

How theatre principles help to understand our work.

We are taught to believe that change happens when we effectively do something about the situation we are confronted with. That’s why we tend to look for the next steps and solutions to fix our old problems. Solution Focus, however, takes a different route to change. Instead of following the classic cause-effect logic, we rely on the power of imagination to make change flow more naturally.

Often though, SF is still used as a problem-solving tool: helping clients focus on what’s wanted and determine what steps they need to take to climb that stairway to heaven.

To fully embrace the power of SF, we need to step out of our dominant cause-effect logic and step into the wonderful world of imagination, where miracles do happen.

Vonneke and Anton link SF to some powerful philosophical concepts from Aristotle’s “Poetics” in this video. In “Poetics”, Aristotle analyses how art works through imitation and differentiation (mimesis) and how a certain quality of representation (enargeia) can transform the spectator (katharsis).

In an SF conversation, we invite our clients to transpose themselves in different, more resilient versions of themselves (mimesis) as we ask them to create vivid (enargetic) memories of their future perfect and their past successes. Thus clients create a state of transformation (katharsis) just by means of our conversations. Zooming out from our SF conversations - yet staying in the theatrical context - we look at the staging of our practice. In theatre, the dramaturg is that person who makes sure that what is being said on stage is enhanced by the elements around it. The setting, tone of voice, attitude, body language, and other scenic elements like props, light, and music all contribute to the quality of the (verbal) action of the scene. So, suppose we look at our work like dramaturgists; what could we do on that level to enhance the quality of our work even more?

PDF Presentation Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Listen to an audio recording on Soundcloud

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Vonneke Beeker
Vonneke Beeker
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Vonneke Beeker is a Solution Focused process supervisor, coach and mediator. She works with Ilfaro and focusses on facilitating conversations to help people find more oxygen within their collaborations. She studied dramaturgy at the University of Amsterdam and has a background in public and non for profit management.

Anton Stellamans
Anton Stellamans
Board Member
SFiO Chapter Head
SFiO Contributor

Anton Stellamans works as a Solution-Focused coach, trainer and facilitator at Ilfaro, Belgium. After his studies (philosophy and history) he was trained in SF Brief Therapy at the Korzybski Institute in Bruges. He is co-autor of “Resilient People, Resilient Teams” and “The Art of Giving Feedback.”