When it comes to helping vulnerable and troublesome children and their families a lot of interest and practice is focused on verbal language and introspection. These verbal skills are very important in coaching and therapy. Both clients and therapists are challenged to express themselves unequivocally and find the right words.

Figuring Futures is an extra tool to facilitate a strong and meaningful dialogue using three kind of treasure chests, Lego® dolls, building blocks, colorful pads, etcetera. In the hands of a skilled solution focused practitioner the use of creative tools highlights, amplifies, reinforces and empowers the clients’ strengths and coping skills. The setting on a table represents a visualization of the client’s dreams, the significant others in their life, the bump in the road… and invites client and practitioner to an externalizing overview as from a helicopter perspective.

This method connects the technique of visualization with the solution-oriented approach. It enables clients and practitioners to get insight in situations the client wants to change.

Treasure chests are fascinating, powerful, abundant, sparkling and stimulate creative thinking and encourage imagination.

Adding creative tools to a solution focused conversation invites clients to think out of the (problem)box and motivates them to generate new viewpoints.

Figuring Futures also makes the switch from “visualization to acting”.

By far, the major challenge in SFT is to find out what exactly works and to elicit in a very precise way how clients use their resources in moments when their best hopes already take place.

Although visualization is a very powerful tool, it’s not an end in itself. Figuring Futures is no magical trick. It facilitates a careful solution focused conversation that recognizes clients to be architects of their life.

Context of work

Figuring Futures can be useful in working with a wide range of clients (5-99 y.) e.g. children, teenagers, adults.  It can be applied in several coaching areas as well in therapy, teamwork, education, case study, supervision, such as pupil guidance, social and medical care, marriage counseling, career guidance…


If you would like to experience the method and learn how to use it you can attend a workshop.

In our introductory workshop we illustrate the Figuring Futures Method through a case study. You are given the opportunity to work with the figures and discuss with others. You can experience first hand the applicability and versatility of the technique. You gain insight of the benefits and how it can be of practical use to both you and your clients.

At the end of this workshop you’ll have learned more about:

  • The necessities (the treasure chest of hope – the client’s treasure chest and the significant others and their treasure chests)
  • The benefits of this method (for clients and for yourself as a coach)
  • The applicability (how to use with adults in a not childish but very appreciative way)

If this introduction to the method is of interest to you, you can decide whether to attend our 2 day session.

Elke Gybels is a SF-practitioner, trainer and therapist at “De Content”, an agency for therapy, in service training and coaching. She is also a professor at the postgraduate course SFT at University College Leuven-Limburg, Belgium.  

Elke and Rik Prenen are the authors of the book “Van klacht naar kracht”

Contact: elke.gybels@figuringfutures.com


Gybels, E., Prenen, R. (2015). Van klacht naar kracht. Een schatkist voor oplossingsgericht begeleiden. Tielt: Uitgeverij LannooCampus


Evan George about our book: 

‘As the Solution Focused approach grows in spread and influence throughout the worlds of counselling, therapy and coaching, practitioners are bringing their own creativity to the model, exploring new and innovative applications and developments. This book is a wonderful example of just such a development, illustrating how creative materials can be used alongside the traditional conversation structures of the approach. The text is rooted in the authors’ clinical experience and will surely inspire its readers to access their own best way of communicating effectively with their clients’.

Evan George is Co-director BRIEF London UK, Co-author of Solution Focused Brief Therapy: 100 Key Points and Techniques and Brief Coaching: a Solution Focused approach

Participants about a workshop:

“Wow – Elke, your workshop was so motivating. I love the way you explained to us how you work. You instantly “translate” what your coachees says into a picture with duplo figures. You use all the solution focus elements like treasure chest (strengths and preferred future), tiny pieces of paper (little steps) etc. I can imagine that your clients benefit a lot from the way you work with them. You really motivated me to try something new. Wow! Thanks a lot, cheers!”

Julia Kalenberg, trainer, coach, Switzerland

“As the coordinator of the support team of VCLB-Limburg and as a guest professor at the university colleges of Leuven and Hasselt I worked very close with Elke Gybels during many years.
I have been consistently impressed by her expertise and her solid interpersonal and  professional insights that she gained on the job and during continuous training and education.  On many occasions Elke demonstrated her outstanding analytical skills to a solution focused diagnosis  and to ‘figure-out’ meaningful perspectives.  She has the intelligence, work ethic, upbeat personality and coaching attitude to add value to a team or an individual.  Elke takes on all tasks with an engaging personal style and a smile.
I will always hold her in the highest esteem and I sincerely recommend, Elke without any reservation, as a great coach, trainer and lecturer. “
Rik Prenen, VCLB

 “I had the pleasure to attend the workshop “Figuring Futures, reframing challenges” of Elke at the SOL Conference 2012 in Oxford. Elke is a very dedicated, passionate and competent course instructor. She has the ability to attract the participants for her ideas and her interesting insights gave me different impulses for my own work. Thanks a lot!”

Lorenz Jungi, psychologist by Human Events, Switzerland