Using Solution Focused Brief Therapy with adolescents in a mentoring context : a qualitative case study.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Counselling
On a particularly balmy Christchurch evening in March 2012, I attended a parent information evening for my son at his school. As he was embarking on his first year of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, we were highly attentive. The message was clear, to improve his chances in this highly competitive environment, he would need to work hard to improve academically. This sounded reasonable however, what if he had no idea of what academic improvement means; or what if he knows what it means, but doesn’t know how to go about it. Later, we discussed these concerns with his Dean and were told of the academic mentoring scheme that the school provides. This we were told, would improve his motivation, improve his self esteem and most of all, improve his results. Later that term, my son attended one session of academic mentoring that his school provided. I was curious and asked him to describe his experience. Unfortunately, there was to be only one session. He felt being ‘told what to do’ was not congenial with what he wanted from the programme and the fact that nobody seemed interested in ‘what I already know works’, meant he and the academic mentoring programme parted company. This experience opened up many questions and lead me to consider what does work in successful academic mentoring programmes? Could Solution Focused counselling offer a practical alternative to current practises because of its focus on what is working rather than what is not? The realities of life in a New Zealand high school, mean that teaching, mentoring and counselling needs to be efficient and responsive to the unique challenges of working with adolescents. One such efficient response is Solution Focused Therapy. The philosophy behind this theory is a practical fit with academic mentoring, for three reasons; its focus on solutions rather than problems, its brevity and change can be immediate. Therefore, the subject of this research is academic improvement, specifically, the role that a student’s perception of their own ability plays in contributing to academic improvement. The enquiry falls within a social constructionist’s lens, as the findings rely on the views and voices of participants in terms of how life experiences have developed, enabling perceptions to emerge. The findings from this research portfolio reveal that students’ perceptions on their own academic ability can be enhanced through the use of Solution Focused Therapy. The groups expected to benefit from the findings include; high school students, teachers, counsellors as well as others who are interested in features that influence student success in a high school setting.