Center for Solution-Focused Training 
Therapist training, supervision, organizational consultation, and therapy

Joel K. Simon, LCSW, ACSW, BCD


Ratings and Comments from Prior Trainings


Scales are all 1 (low) to 5 (high)

June 2017: 2-day Solution Focus Training, Center for Solutions

The training was attended by 2 people.

How comfortable was the training environment: 5, 5
What I learned is applicable to what I do: 5, 5
The training held my interest: 5, 4.8
The material was organized: 5,5
Joel is knowledgeable on the subject: 5,5

What surprised you the most?

"I knew it was likely that the training would be helpful but I was perhaps surprised to realize exactly how helpful it would be! Now I am eager to get back and start using these tools with students!"
" The applicablility of the process. I wanted so to be able to work with my students right away."

Additional comments:

"I only know that using this with students, staff and family."
"I loved the training!"

October 2016: 2-day Solution Focus Training, Albany, NY.

The following are all average responses on a 0 to 5 scale (n=19)

How comfortable was the training environment? 4.63
What I learned is applicable to what I do. 4.63
The training held my interest. 4.7
The material was organized. 4.8
Joel is knowledgeable on the subject. 4.9

Comments from the question "What surprised you most?"

"How difficult it will be to change my mind from problem focus to solution focus."
"How I already use some of the skills without knowing."
"How much I enjoyed the training. It held my interest and I'm excited to try the solution-focused approach."
"My connection to the model and the revitalization it had for me."
"Before coming, I felt that this model would be challanging, and I wouldn't be able to use it. After, I feel as though I will be able to utilize this for the rest of my career."
"How much of solution-focused aspect I use in my field."
"How hard it can be to stay in the "solution room""
"How easy and difficult this is at the same time"
"The chance to apply to any population/situation!"
"How much the solution-focused approach can be applied to all situations. If you get stuck, you can always get out!!"
"The cognitive changes required to use solution focus therapy. The positive vibe that solution-focused therapy provides the person looking for help."
"I was surpised by the nuance and the open ended nature."
"This is more difficult than I expected!"
"Simplistic approach to great healing. Stop, listen and hear."
"How connected the participants became over the 2 days."
"How great this was. I felt as though this was a therapeutic awakening for me and plan to do my very best to adopt this style/model."
"How powerful the interventions are."

Additional comments:

"Great training - keep sharing this information."
"Thanks, Joel. What a pleasure to experience the training."
"Thank you - great training."
"Thank you, Joel. So excited to focus on this with staff!"
"I enjoyed the role playing in a group and bouncing feedback back and forth off each other."
"I liked the way the role plays were done. They did not force too much uncomfortability but still helped to get hands on the model."
"I think there should be some examples on when things don't always work. There has to be times when the clients don't work with this idea as well as Joel makes it seem."
"I think this training was great and really informative. I've learned so much. I have a lot to focus on change with myself."

September 2016: 2-day Solution Focus Training with staff from the State of Nevada Department of Mental Health in Las Vegas

The follow are all average response on a 0 to 5 scale (n=18)

How comfortable was the training environment? 4.06
What I learned is applicable to what I do 3.88
The training held my interest 4.06
The material was organized: 4.33
Joel is knowledgeable on the subject 4.89

Comments from the question "What surprised you most?"

"The simplicity! Awesome"
"Interactive 2nd day"
"How diffrerent it is from my graduate training"
"How almost anything can be turned into a solution"

Additional comments/suggestions

"Learned some great interventions that I can utilize"

"It felt like the presenter "poked" for answers from us as if we had the knowledge. In my opinion, he should allow us to speak if we want to, and not force us to speak. He was very knowledgeable about the subject but it felt as if he was forcing us to answer questions"

[My response: solution-focus training should model the model. One of the assumptions I make as a SF practitioner is that clients are experts on themselves and their situations. If one accepts the main precept of exceptions, then one has to also accept that the client is already to some degree doing the solution and therefore knows the answers. This is also true of training. Since the first day of training is introducing the group to the basic principles, I would assume that the trainees have the capacity, cognitivie abilties and wisdom to use the ideas. This was reinforced for me when showing a video, I stopped it just before the miracle question was asked and had the group divide into pairs to discuss what they would make the miracle. When we went around, it was very clear that they understood the concept and each pair come up with excellent ideas. This was also true when I did the same for the "thinking break." Contrary to the above comment, they in fact did have the knowledge. In terms of "poking" for answers, I'm not sure what that means. I ask questions and I wait for responses. Yes, the silence inbetween while people are thinking can be uncomfortable but we are not sponges that absorb information; knowledge gathering is an interactive process. "Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand". Beside, I don't want anyone to think that I just print positive comments.]

July 2016: Following are comments from a 2-day Solution Focus Training in Tokyo, Japan.

Mr. Simon was humorous with words, and thanks to his lively and easy-to-understand teachings, I was able to stay focused and relaxed for the two-day workshop.

Joel-sensei was such a warm and personable teacher. He created a comfortable learning environment.

Mr. Joel is a determined, gentle, and wonderful teacher.

Mr. Joel’s seminar was very fruitful. It was great to hear him talk of Steve and explain microanalysis. “Road to solution can be led from anywhere”-this made a deep impression on me.

What I remember most from Mr. Joel’s workshop is his original magic. I am proudly boasting it in Sapporo. There were so many other things I learned. I am not good at giving feedbacks, but hearing Joel say that “any comment is ok”, I felt at ease. All this time I’d thought I needed to provide the right answer, but instead of an answer all I need is a suggestion. And if that turned out to be wrong, it still gives the client a chance to think through it.

By the end of the first day, I was at 8 on the scale. I felt fulfilled and satisfied. On the second day I went up to 9, and I’m saving one more point for when I actually put what I learned to practice.

I had been providing compliments throughout the first semester to a student assumably with a developmental disorder. It’s clear that the parents care for the student with love, and with acknowledgment and appreciation for what they do, I was able to build trust with them. I was reassured that I had been on the right path, and I felt comforted, and re-energized.

Words by Mr. Joel that has made a great impression 1. Language game 2. The more we talk about the problem, it becomes real. So don’t put a spotlight on the problem, instead face the future with a solution. 3. One thing that has gone wrong makes people believe everything has gone wrong. 4. Confusion is the seed of learning. 5. Best hope is important.

It was a great seminar. I think I had been trapped in trying to be loyal to the model, which had made me preoccupied. And because I had been distracted, role playing didn’t go well. My interpretation was that we should listen to the client with SFA thinking and minds, and ask questions based on SFA thinking and minds. It must be closer to building a conversation than just asking questions. As for role playing, if everyone has the same SFA mindset, then many questions will pop up at many timings.

It gave me a brimful of confidence to learn that any question is ok with a SFA mind.

I am a total beginner in counseling, but I was swelled with emotions during the workshop. With some unexpected tears…I'll once again read the literatures mentioned. Thank you so much.

It was a wonderful workshop. I was able to pick up on many things from basics to applications. Joel-sensei is a wonderful person. He reminded me of Steve with his gestures, and I felt nostalgic. I was almost in tears during the last role play. Mr. Takenouchi’s role was amazing, and Joel-sensei’s comments were so warm …

Thank you for a great workshop. Learning how deep it is, I realized I shouldn’t “think that I already know”. Joel-sensei’s words rich in nuance. I truly thought I want to keep learning and practicing what I learn. It was a very truly meaningful workshop. I am glad I attended.

What I learned was: Once you have learned the basics of Solution-focused thinking, and reach the level where you are able to teach it to others, “there’s more to it”.

I was able to gain new insights through the easy-to-understand instructions and works, as well as how other coaches and professionals are being creative and deliberating in their own field.

I think that I’ve experienced and know how “staying on the surface” can be difficult, and how that leads to CI power. Watching Mr. Takenouchi cautiously carry out the steps in the interview, I was once again reminded of the basics. I think I was able to apply to my interview I had the next day-simple, but with much care.

It was my first time attending a SFA workshop. And I feel I have wholly absorbed what SFA is all about. What is great is that during the work in the first half of the workshop, Mr. Joel mentioned that the interview can be guided regardless of “what the client’s problem is”. The problem is not important, but what the client wants to do is important. I learned that facing forward and staying positive is what counts. I gained a fresh reminder to deeply learn SFA, and incorporate it into my way of thinking in life, and my practices (on students and my own children).

It was very practical and easy to understand how Mr. Joel introduced work to teach the fundamental thinking of Solution-focused therapy, and using step-by-step methods to teach detailed ways of guiding the interview with basic concepts and techniques. I found many ideas and wordings that I feel I can incorporate. Thank you very much.

April 5 & 6, 2016: Center for Solution Focus Training: 3 trainees.

All scales are 0 to 5

How comfortable the training environment was for you? 5,5,4 (1 comment: "A little far from [New York] City"

What I learned here is applicable to what I do: 10 = totally agree: 5,5,4

The training held my interest: 10 = totally agree: 5,5,5

How organized you think the material was: 5,5,4

Joel's knowledgeability of the subject: 5,5,5

Comments/Suggestions: "I would like the training to be longer - maybe 3 or 5 days" "I love the combination of comments of other researchers with the case examples, It is a great way to learn how the techniques of SFBT work."

What surprised you most? "It reaffirms my interest in this approach, I find it even more consistent." "How SFBT can be applicable for all kinds of psychological treatment." "I very much liked the possible actions. I was surprised about how many possibilties you have in one utterance" [re: presentation on Microanalysis of Opportunities].

Additional comments/suiggestions: "Very good teacher and I got very motivated to learn more." "Thanks so much for the tips about drug issues" [re: suggestions about how to co-construct something useful when clients state that changes are happening mainly because of psychiatric medications.]. "Thanks!"

October 16 & 17, 2015: Albany, NY

"It was very specific in terms of how to try to do this therapy. Very concrete as well as presenting the framework. Roleplays were a good thing to end with."

What was helpful: "Interaction - particiapants energized by the workshop. It was more fun than I'd expected.":

"That therapy can be SIMPLE."

"What was most useful was that the audience asked questions and your answers. Less structured but useful. I feel empowered to do this on my onw. What surprised me was how many possible responses can come out of one utterance [referring to the Opportunities presentation]."

"Joel did a great job keeping it moving, maintaining flow and focus, even modeling solution-focused work. What surprised me was the completeness of this paradigm and the sense of risk if I leave my comfort zone. I enjoyed it nevertheless."

"I was re-invigorated, getting a better sense of how to use the techniques and more importantly, the mind-set. What surprised me was the alacrity with which people picked up the ideas and were able to use them in roleplays."

"I'm doing more of this therapy than I thought."

"Really nice job. Things flowed very nicely and it was helpful to acknowledge that the system can be a challenge. What surprised me was the use of the whole group to ask questions - very informative.".

What was useful: "The role playing, videos and us of humor to keep the atmosphere light and from dragging were useful. I was surprised by how many questions one can truly ask as opposed to the advice we tend to lean towards offering."

What was useful: "that the training was very specific, microanalysis, even with mandated clients the responsibility for customership is the clients, and "go slow to go solution-focused". What surprised me was how much of this fits with what I have always believed truly helps."

"I liked how Joel broke everything down and watching examples. Everyone's questions were great and your answers were interesting and helpful."

"The open dialogue, role plays, the range and variety of experiences in the room were all useful. Also helpful were the discussions of the use of the model within a variety of contexts, different client situations, and the constraints of working in systems/other paradigms. What surprise me was that I think I'm getting it."

"What was helpful were the discusions, roleplays, and the ability to engage participants. I would have liked more training days. I was surprised by how many skills I feel I have now."

What was helpful: "co-construction, The clear focus on goals, very interactive teaching style which addressed issues as raised. I was surprised by how little there was to actually teach/learn."

"What was helpful were roleplays, tools and the (PowerPoint) slides. The presentation on co-construction of reality was surprising and a helpful conceptualization."

"I was surprised by how easily it dove-tails with basic social work philosophy and the potential use with schizophrenics, etc."

What was useful: "new way of thinking about counseling and shifting practice. The training energized me to try a new approach. There were many useful conversations and I appreciated hearing other perspectives. I was surprised by how difficult it is to make the shift, to frame questions to arrive at solutions and how a problem-focused conversation is so hard to interrupt."

October 2014 2-day Training (3 trainees)

1) Scale 0 to 5 how comfortable was training environment?
5,5,5: "Wonderful-Welcoming"

2) What I learned here is applicable to what I do
4,5,4: "It is applicable to majority - case management is also part of my role so that is what puts it at 4 rather than a 5"
"I find that the material learned is very applicable to what I do and the population I work with."

3) The training held my interest.
5,5,5: "Videos were awesome - loved to watch the sessions to illustrate SFBT"

4) How organized you think that the material was
5,5,5: "Went smoothly - progressed well." "Very organized! I enjoyed the vairiation of mediums used."

5) Rate Joel's knowledgeability on the subject

6) What surprised you most?
"How free flowing the sessions was with [live case]." "Watchng the client reactions during the video clips and the live counseling session" "That I didn't dislike the role play part. I actually enjoyed it and viewed it as a learning experience."

7) Additional comments/suggestions
"Loved the role plays and actual session" "I wish I could train with your leadership more."

Other comments from trainings:

"I was surprised in the way the clients change their reality by finding their own solutions."

What surpristed you most? "How solution focused therapy is so opposite of what I do."

What surpristed you most? "That it can be used with all populations and that it can work so quickly."

What surpristed you most?"How challenging it seems to shift the paradigm of problem-solving thinking to solution-focused."

"I particularly liked and found helpful the seven solution building tools.

"Useful interviewing interventions that I can use in supervising direct line staff, esp. in working with challenging populations.

"Videos were especially helpful and questions asked by other participants."

"Lots of great examples."

"Presenter lead to our knowledge level. Did not over simplify."

"I must tell you I will always be grateful to you for all the help me you gave me in the past. As a result of your efforts, I have become rather prolific at recognizing exceptions, and restraint in my students behavior, and thus helping them uncover successful strategies for improvement. Once again thank you for all your efforts."

"Thank you so very much for the really excellent two day training; it far surpassed my expectations."

"Love, love the utterance/opportunity exercise - very helpful."

What surpristed you most? "How easy it is all becoming. I felt as comfortable as I did with the roleplays".

In 2009, I did a series of one-day introduction to solution-focus presentations for PESI (Professional Educational Services, Inc.).
Following are the results on a 0 (low) to 5 (high) scale:

Cherry Hill N.J.
Program: 4.47, Speaker: 4.56, Deliver: 4.55, Knowledge: 4.76

Philadelphia, PA
Program: 4.73, Speaker: 4.88, Delivery: 4.67, Knowledge: 5.00

King of Prussia, PA
Program: 4.61, Speaker: 4.69, Delivery: 4.53, Knowledge: 4.81

Roseville, MN
Program: 4.44, Speaker: 4.44, Deliver: 4.56, Knowledge: 4.76

Bloomington, MN
Program: 4.67, Speaker: 4.72, Deliver: 4.67, Knowledge: 4.78

In 2011, I was contacted by New York Foundling and asked to do a 3-day training with their Staten Island, NY rapid intervention program group. The following is the average scores for each category and comments made about the training (N=9). Scores are based on a 1 to 5 scale: 1 = not at all, 5 = Fully

1) The training met my expectation: 4.6
2) The presenter was well prepared: 5
3) The material was presented in an organized manner: 4.9
4) The material was clear and easily understood: 4.6
5) The training helped me prepare to practice solution-focus with my clients: 4.2

6) What surprised you the most about the training?

- How much SFBT makes you change the way you think and work with clients.
- The shift in thinking required (x2)
- The actual method to SFBT. I came to this training blind and was very surprised by the tools used and method.
- The way things got easier as the days went along.
- Easy concepts: hard to put into practice.
- Joel's openness, dedication and patience in training staff. Joel's direction was precise and helpful in understanding the material and feeling appreciated as a professional.
- How different the ideology of the practice is from other more traditional practice modalities.
- Outside the box thinking. A shift in my own thinking.

7) Additional comments:

- I like the way the training was conducted.
- Excellent training!
- Thank you. I enjoyed the training very much.
- Thank you for your support and guidance. My hopes of becoming a successful solution-focused therapist is a 10 on the scale [smiley face].


For further information contact Joel



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