Reviewed Piece of SF work: Leah Davcheva
Coaching for change: a Solutions Focus 10-day training course for youth workers and activists – August-September 2016
“Stick to the method and be there for the other” We were a team of three facilitators who collaboratively facilitated this course in Frankolovo, Slovenia. We mapped the programme in-between three overlapping institutional, conceptual, and practice territories:
- The format of an Erasmus+ project of the European Commission
- Our shared and individual understandings of SF coaching
- The best hopes, experiences and resources of the course participants
The outcomes that arose are:
- The participants discovered the power of Solutions Focus for expanding their professional activities in the youth field and also for growing their own personal awarenesses;
- They experimented, persistently and consistently, with the SF tools and the various SF questions and processes;
- They learned the language of SF, e. g. the names of the tools, ways to formulate questions, ways to imply respect and appreciation;
- They found different ways to use SF tools in conversation with each other and their external ‘clients’;
- They had a go at SF coaching in the world outside the safe environment of course;
- They worked on and added impetus to their own projects employing SF thinking and tools;
- Some of the participants were beginning to see and talk about the difference SF might make to achieve progress in difficult situations.
During this course I learned how to ask the right questions and reinforce the resources of the young people I work with in a SF-way. Leah knew how to ask the right questions so that I could learn to use the SF tools better.As a participant I was immediately accepted and self-assured which gave me the power to exercise and learn with passion. M.H.
I noticed that SF for her is a way of living and it was easy to see it in practice so it was not something she “teaches” but she herself is a great example of. Through the practice and the support I received I developed my self-confidence and enriched my practical experience. N.J
The learning I got from the training course has contributed to my daily work with youth in their development and finding ways to define their own educational and professional projects. As a coach, she is committed to the development of her apprentices, paying attention to the needs of each participant process and open for questions and reflection conversations. She showed us Solution Focus with a style that awoke our curiosity,co-creating group dynamics and going with us during the process. A.F
She doesn’t “take it easy” when performing. She is well prepared, plans it thoroughly and yet is very agile to work with changes that come along the way. Being well prepared allows for a smooth, confident and relaxed performance. Our participants of the course noticed this immediately as she earned respect and authority from the very first contact with them. Building on that, I also liked how she was with the participants: attentive, respectful and considerate when they came to her with challenges and questions they were having. A true professional. B.R.
Making a choice: It took me longer than I expected to decide which piece of work I wanted to have reviewed. For it had to be a new and a challenging one for me, seen as innovative and exciting, and also worth telling about.
Learning about the Review: Having finally decided which piece of work I was going to open for critical viewing, I did my best to find out as much as I could about the Review process. This was an intensely rational exercise: streaming together a flood of reflections, texts, records of activities, and assembled evidence from the event I had picked for Review into the structure (albeit loose) required by the association.
Experiencing the Review: significant people: In the course of the Review I connected with caring and response-able people. They helped me shape and steer the Review process. Generously and in their different roles, they engaged with my initiative and helped me recreate the story of the event. This made it possible for me to understand better what I had accomplished, re-learn and move forward. I am touched by the power of sharing and respectful feedback.
A memorable part of the conversation with my two reviewers was the discussion over first- and third-person engagement with the client. It made such a big difference applying the distinction to a work experience that I had been through rather than discussing it ‘in principle” or reading about it.
Leah provided the reviewers with a clear and deeply considered application of SF. The conception, development and implementation of the training course was embedded in SF principles, using them imaginatively in many ways. Some examples will give a flavour of the quality of the work.
- In developing the program she and her fellow practitioners, noticed and worked with their significant differences to enhance it.
- Open Space was used to honour and use the knowledge that the participants were already bringing to the course.
- With participants drawn from various countries they spent time on developing well-formed questions with them to focus the learning and follow the client.
- In a beautiful location, changing spaces were used during the course to mark a sense of change happening all the time.
- The principles of SF were embedded in the team coaching sessions where a discursive understanding of emergence was consciously used.
- Doing something different was powerfully modelled when difficulties arose.
- They noticed the multitude of positive changes emerging.
- They embedded SF in their interactions wherever possible.
Second Reviewer summary:
The moment I heard Leah talking about this project with young professionals, my interest was raised. I was felt very curious and honoured to review her work. First of all, I was impressed by the Solution Focused angle she and her colleagues took in all the aspects of their work: the step by step development of the program, close cooperation with both colleagues and participants, the full use of resources in their team, the respect for differences and complementary competences. Reading the comments of the participants, I could see that they were impressed by Leah’s personality, listening skills and professionalism. She was always treating them as experts, trusting their experience and answers. I think she was a model for them as to how build cooperation, be extremely curious, open and respectful in a solution focused way. This attitude will no doubt leave an even deeper trace than learning about the theory and application of Solution Focus. Leah was also very courageous in working with one of the participants who was a bit critical in front of the group, to show them the power and effectiveness of Solution Focus. When discussing the report, Leah was very eager to learn and very open to any feedback. Above all I admire the scope of the project, having a ripple effect through the young and motivated participants to so many of their clients.
About The Candidate:
Leah Davcheva, PhD, is the founder and director of AHA moments – Centre for Interculturality, Solutions Focus, and Host Leadership. She works both locally and internationally, developing and delivering coaching and training programmes for organisations, teams and individuals in a wide range of settings.
Leah has contributed to and was instrumental in building up the foundations of intercultural education and intercultural communication training in Bulgaria and beyond. Having studied Solutions Focus and Host Leadership with Mark McKergow, a more recent focus in her work is supporting people in their desire to change.
She is researcher, and (co-) author of books, articles and learning materials.