During solution-focused therapy we use simple tools to measure the extent of a problem or difficulty. This scaling of an issue  is useful because a) both the therapist and the client gain an understanding of how things stand, and b) it gives everyone in the room some assurance that they’re communicating well and singing off the same song sheet.  It’s then easier to take the steps towards finding solutions to problems and scaling that progress.

For example if you tell me you’re depressed it’s important that we all understand quite how depressed you are and how much impact depression has on your life.  Some people are overwhelmed with depression and others are “a bit down”.  But what does this mean in reality – how much down, how much depressed?   Although this can be described by the client in terms of how they are behaving, scaling that information and making it quantifiable gives everyone a good clue as to the severity of the problem.  It’s a coded way of describing feelings too so we all know exactly the extent of those feelings.  Clients often say that it makes their problem feel more manageable.

So, if 0 represents depression at its worst and 10 represents a complete lack of depression, where are you on this scale?   The figure a client gives can often take us all completely by surprise.  I may think from their description of their depression that they would put themselves at a 0-1 and then they put the figure at 5.  It’s easier now to decide on what has to happen or what they have to do to push this figure to a 6, or if the figure falls to explore why this has happened (and it begs the question, what is going well that it is a 5 and not lower?) Clients can also use scaling to decide what the ideal number would be for them to feel the problem is no longer influential.

It’s a surprisingly useful, simple tool. You may like to try it for yourself.  If you’re happy today, angry, upset or frustrated where would you put yourself on the scale (0-10: 0 = worst case scenario, 10 = the ideal) what could you do to push your score up towards your ideal?