The Solution-Focused Supervision Handbook by Dion Sing
Self-published, 2023, 61 pages, ISBN 978-0645682014, $US 28.95 (e-book available)

Brevity doesn’t allow for nuance, and it’s a nice complement to confidence. ~ Rumaan Alam

As I completed my first read of Sing’s work, I was reminded of the launch of “A Brief Guide to Brief Therapy”, coauthored by the late Brian Cade and Bill O’Hanlon, published 30 years ago (Cade & O’Hanlon, 1993). Critics quickly jumped, saying the book was too long…They simply did not grasp the authors’ humour and took “brief” too literally. It’s a stretch to call Dion Sing’s work a “Handbook,” but that doesn’t diminish its value. This compact book of solution-focused (SF) supervision ideas and practices is “succinct” (from Colmer’s Foreword) and “immediately applicable” (from Sing’s Introduction). I don’t see the author’s intention as teaching a SF approach to supervision; it’s more about “improving outcomes” (p ii) in a supervisory relationship through creating a focus on practices that orient you in a clear SF direction.

Sing provides a SF approach to supervision that can immediately enhance one’s impact on a student, employee, clinician, or colleague relationship. He cites ideas from several fields, ranging from Bandura to Dweck in developmental psychology to neuroscience, motivation studies, and (of course) SF ideas and practices. My favorite bits:

“Values and Approaches” is a crisp overview of Sing’s assumptions about SF practice in supervision. They fit nicely with most current SF practices including psychotherapy, coaching, and skill development. I especially love this value: “If we think something is working but the person who we are supervising is not of the same view that it is working, we should consider that it is NOT working. Change is not change unless it is experienced by the person it is intended to benefit” (p 8). Although unwelcome change is still change, Sing’s distinction is clear: we should not impose our views of “what’s working” on the experience of the person we supervise.

I also appreciated the sections entitled, “Separating Influence and Control” and “Challenging Through Questions.” Sing’s values are clearly illustrated in the examples and fit neatly within historic SF theory and practices.

All in all, the reader should approach Sing’s work as a short story, not a novel – entertaining and engaging, moving immediately to develop a focus and then swiftly transition to direct application ideas. It’s not an academic tome; its intent is to nimbly move the reader into a SF supervision mindset and practice.

More details and purchasing on the book website.

Frank Thomas PhD is Professor Emeritus at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas USA and the author of Solution-Focused Supervision (Springer, 2013)