• Fresh Views

    Focus on Solutions (rather than on problems): 10 Solution Focused Questions

    Our daily notebook that reminds us of our priorities

    Today we’re sharing with you the cover of a notebook we both keep on our desks to capture ideas and thoughts, and also keep us grounded as to what’s important in life. This week Deb is embracing the last four …Relax more. Worry Less. Play more. Work Less. It’s Spring Break time and she is taking a break with family (and undoubtedly will  have photos of some great views to share when she returns!). Incidentally, “Play More. Work Less” was Tami’s New Year’s Solution in 2017, long before owning this journal! (see more about New Year’s Solutions in place of New Year’s resolutions here).

    If you have read a few of our blogs, you know that our approach is future-focused, goal-directed, with focus on solutions, rather than on problems. Today we want to share with you 10 solution focused questions that you may ask yourself when faced with a challenging situation. Or, use with clients if you are a healthcare practitioner.

    10 Solution Focused Questions

    1. What is different or going differently?
    2. What’s going better?
    3. Think about the positive moments surrounding the situation. Suppose those positive moments were to last longer. What difference would that make for you?
    4. Suppose the positive moments were to last longer. What conclusions could you draw from that?
    5. What do you see as a next step?
    6. In your opinion, what would be a very small step forward?
    7. How great is the chance that will work out?
    8. What might be the next sign of progress or your next step?
    9. What will you be doing differently then?
    10. Who in your life will be the first to notice that?

    The assumption of a solution focused approach is that individuals have some knowledge of what would make their life better and that everyone who seeks help already possesses at least the minimal skills necessary to create solutions.

    If you incorporate these questions or other tools we’ve shared we’d love to hear from you. If you’re a clinician, are these techniques helping you to build a therapeutic alliance with your clients? If you’re a person living with diabetes, does this approach resonate with you and your needs as you manage your diabetes?

    We look forward to sharing some new fresh views with you soon!

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  • Fresh Views

    Finding joy: In life and through diabetes education services



    Tami and Deb “finding joy” in Glencoe, Scotland a couple of years ago

    Joy is strength. – Mother Teresa

    Today is the 1st day of spring! The sun, warmer weather, and flowers in bloom definitely sparks joy for us. On the topic of “sparking joy”, @AFreshPOVforYOU had the opportunity to moderate the #DSMA Twitter Chat last Wednesday 3/13/19. We had a great discussion that delved into finding joy in life, as well as in diabetes education. (We’d like to hear your thoughts too! If you’re willing to share, click the link to a survey here or at the end of this blog).

    This topic of sparking or finding joy, was inspired by @MarieKondo and her Netflix show about her KonMari method. Are you familiar with her and her wildly popular method of organizing, the KonMari method? Basically, it consists of gathering together one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that “spark joy”. If they don’t spark joy, then you thank them, and let go of them. (The KonMari method also inspired us to get an early start on spring cleaning!)  Maybe you’re not into organizing, that’s okay. But this concept of what sparks joy…it got us thinking about how we could apply it to diabetes and explore how diabetes education may spark joy.

    During the chat, conversation began with what sparks joy for people in their own life, and then turned to when engaging with the diabetes online community (DOC). We asked participants to summarize in one word their experience with the DOC. Here are some of the words people shared: unifying, heartening,  inspiring, awesome, knowledge, enlightening, meaningful, village and yes, joyful!  

    So how can those same words be used to describe engaging diabetes education services?

    We discussed the concept of co-design and wanted to learn if people with diabetes designed a diabetes education program or service, what would they include and how would they design it?  And ideally, what would spark joy for them when participating in a service or program? We heard some really interesting ideas that resonated with the solutions focused approach we are incorporating in our services.  

    Here are some of the thoughts and suggestions:

    • Diabetes is more about the person, than the numbers and gadgets!
    • Experienced people with diabetes (PWD)  teaching newbies
    • Personalized, person centered, there is no “right way” or “one way” to do anything.  Let people choose from a variety of options.
    • Several mentioned meeting people where they are, focusing on strengths, and not worrying about getting “straight A’s”, but realizing everyone is unique
    • Use of technology
    • Self-advocacy
    • Focus on emotional health and goal setting
    • PWD telling their stories
    • Stronger connection to others with diabetes, Interacting with others who have diabetes
    • Be community-based
    • Incorporate personality questions
    • We were really inspired by the amazing @KellyRawlings who thought that “joy” should be one of the AADE7 self-care behaviors for managing diabetes!

    We observed an overwhelming commonality of people wanting or needing to connect more with other PWD as they are learning about living with diabetes. As we closed out the chat, we challenged participants to do something every day that sparks joy in life!  So today, that is our challenge to you too. Do something for yourself, or for others that sparks joy! And if it helps you, track your experiences and feelings in a gratitude journal.

    Thank you to @DiabetesSocMed and Cherise for allowing us to moderate the chat and engage in a fast and fun chat, it really sparked joy for us!

    Would you like to help us learn more about what would make an ideal diabetes education experience?

    At A Fresh POV for you, our goal is to co-design innovative diabetes education services. If you or someone you know has type 2 diabetes or prediabetes and would be interested in participating in a focus group about co-designing education, please complete this survey which will take less than 5 minutes.

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  • Fresh Views

    Going off the beaten path


    From our off the beaten path adventure to  Ireland’s rugged West Coast

    Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and lights to conquer it. –  Amit Ray

    With St. Patrick’s Day a few days away, memories of a trip we took to Ireland 4 years ago come flooding back into our minds. We and our husbands, along with two other couples, each of us from a different part of the US, convened for what became a trip of a lifetime.

    While the trip began in Dublin, the real adventure started when we got off the beaten path. When we got away from touristy spots, outside our comfort zone, and took a cross country road trip to the Western rugged coast of Ireland. The picture you see above with the rainbow was taken from the back yard as we were “imprinting” and savoring our last view at the end of the trip. This trip truly turned out to be our proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  On this journey not only did we see magnificent castles, abbeys, history galore, sheep galore, glorious green like we’ve never seen, and breathtaking views, we laughed A LOT. We strengthened friendships, we made new lifelong friends in Ireland, but most importantly we learned that when you go off the beaten path (so to speak), good things can happen. You get a different view. You gain a different perspective. You get a different experience. (And yes these experiences are in our gratitude journals and brought us great joy! If you’ve been reading our blogs you’ll know how we embrace expressing gratitude and finding joy in life).

    The majesty of the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

    Reflecting and bringing these experiences back to our practices leads us to ask: What if you went off the beaten path so to speak, and rather than focusing on the things in life when managing diabetes that are NOT going the way you want, instead, focus on the things that ARE going well? In our experience, so often we see that healthcare professionals and those living with diabetes alike, fixate on things that are not as desired – whether its an out of range blood glucose, a high A1C, or frequent hypoglycemia. That can leave you burnt out, and frankly beat down. What if instead you get a whole different experience by taking the road less traveled? Focusing on what you are doing well and how you can achieve or do that more.

    This next week we challenge you (whether you live with diabetes or not) to identify at least 1 thing that’s gone well. Is it possible to repeat what you did to lead to more “positive” experiences and days?

    In closing, returning to the our Irish adventure. The four couples deeply bonded on this trip. We valued the time spent together. It  made us realize we wanted to spend more time together over similar shared experiences. So, we are in fact planning another “off the beaten path” adventure across the South of France this summer. Adventuring through life experiences worked for us. It brings us joy. So we are going to do it again. We are sure to have some new perspectives, new learnings and beautiful views to share with you!

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  • Fresh Views

    Doing things differently: Using solution focused questions to build a therapeutic alliance


    Tami’s photos from the Chihuly glass sculptures exhibit at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. She did things differently by not only viewing the exhibit in the daylight, but also after dark, and got an entirely different perspective.

    Doing things differently leads to something exceptional. – Anonymous

    Our blog last week focused on being a human first.  There was so much information in that one blog post that we decided to highlight and reinforce a few concepts today. So here we go!

    The strength in a therapeutic alliance

    As you may know, we strongly believe in the concept of a “therapeutic alliance” (which you may also know as the “helping alliance” or the “working alliance”). This alliance refers to the relationship between a healthcare professional and the person with diabetes by which they engage with each other to bring about beneficial change for that person with diabetes. This relationship is a most important component.

    The power of language

    It’s near to impossible to create those connections and build that alliance without focusing on language. Language and word choice is one of the most powerful choices we have. Words can demonstrate respect, empowerment and support or words can shame and blame. Respecting the expertise and experience of the person living with diabetes is essential to develop a strong therapeutic alliance.

    Focusing on solutions, not problems

    You also probably know that we are using solutions focused brief therapy (SFBT) and coaching in our work. SFBT is a questioning approach with conversation focusing on the client’s vision and how he/she identifies potential solutions. The questions asked during the interaction focus on a desired future state, and on what is already working well for that individual in the present. We acknowledge that the client has all the skills necessary to achieve their goals. As we mentioned last week, our goal, through incorporating principles of SFBT and coaching in diabetes care and education, is to change the conversation, the interaction and the experience of the diabetes community to improve health.

    10 questions practitioners can use to build a therapeutic alliance

    If you are a healthcare practitioner, we want to share 10 questions that you might find useful when engaging in discussions with patients or clients to acknowledge and build the therapeutic alliance. These questions reinforce the human side of both parties. They demonstrate that you care about the person sitting with you and that the relationship between you is important. Moreso, the word choices and body language during the interaction can go a long way towards creating a relationship of mutual respect.

    1. Thank you for coming in. Tell me what’s been going on. What can I help you with today?
    2. What do you wish to achieve or learn by the end of this session so that you can say you’re glad that you were here?
    3. What is the best way for me to work with you? (For example, do you prefer talking on the phone or text messages?)
    4. So that I can learn more about you, what do you consider your assets and strengths?
    5. Is there anything else you’d like to share that I should know?
    6. When you are at your best, what does that look like? How is that different from the way things are now?
    7. How can you do more of what is making things go well?
    8. If we created a plan, what would you consider a start to your being on the right track? And what else?
    9. What can you take from this session that can help you in the coming weeks?
    10. What will you be doing differently after this visit?

    Here are 3 additional questions that can be used to glean insight and feedback on the interaction:

    1. What feedback would you like to give me about today’s session?
    2. On a scale of 0-10, to what extent did you feel heard, understood, and respected during this session? 0 being you did not feel heard, understood or respected at all.
    3. On a scale of 0-10, to what extent did we talk about and work on the things that are important to you during this session? 0 being not at all.

    If you try incorporating some of these questions, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences and if you felt differently during your client visits. We leave you with 3 things to consider:  

    • Do you feel more present and “conscious” during the visit?
    • Do you feel like a “human” first and a practitioner second?
    • Do you notice that your clients are achieving their goals, and most importantly, are they feeling more confident in their ability to live well while managing their diabetes?

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