Edwin Friedman on the search for solutions…

Consider Edwin Friedman’s counsel to leaders in book, A Failure of Nerve (Seabury Books, 2007)

In the search for the solution to any problem, questions are always more important than answers because the way one frames the question, or the problem,  already predetermines the range of answers one can conceive in response. (p. 37)

Seems true for counselors as well. How a counselor begins the exploration of a client’s problem narrows the field of answers as to the problem and solutions. Now, assumptions are always present–especially in questions. So, asking questions doesn’t keep the field of view open unless one is willing to ask questions not normally conceived. It is difficult to remember to ask questions that run counter to our initial hypotheses. And yet such questions are necessary if we are going to counsel actual individuals and not mere figments of our imaginations.


Filed under counseling, counseling skills, Great Quotes

2 responses to “Edwin Friedman on the search for solutions…

  1. Thanks for that challenging reminder, Phil.

  2. D. Stevenson

    You really do prefer questions to answers, don’t you. 😉

    Perhaps it is not good to become too attached to our answers and perhaps it is good to always question our answers.

    Although, I do find it difficult to configure a case conceptualization within an ever shifting field.

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