Speakers & Programme

Programme and speakers from 2019 below, we will replace them with 2020 speakers in due course:


We will place the 2020 conference timetable here:


Thinking of speaking at the next conference in 2020?

Now you can submit your abstract online! (don’t do it yet, this link will not be used yet).

Please submit an abstract of about 100 words for a 40 minute presentation. Presentations may be didactic, case studies, interactive workshops, research presentations, topical discussions etc. There is no specific format required but your abstract must satisfy the organising group that the content is relevant to solution-focused practice.

If you wish to make a briefer presentation, slots may be split but you will need to find someone to fill the remaining time and co-submit. Such submissions should have a common theme, e.g., current research findings.

Please also submit a brief bio, again of no more than 200 words. Please insert these on the submission form at the above link.

If this is your first time presenting your solution focused ideas and/or work and are a little worried, please don’t be, you are amongst friends. Fee free to contact us if you need some advice, guidance or support.


2019 presentations:



Abstract Judi

Abstract Matt

Abstract Paul



David H


Elliott Connie - Keynote

Elliott Connie, MA, LPC is a psychotherapist that practices in Keller, Texas. He has worked with thousands of individuals, couples, and families applying the solution focused approach to help them move their lives from the current problems towards their desired futures. He is the founder and Director of The Solution Focused University, an online learning community that also conducts trainings to help professionals master the Solution Focused Approach in their work. He is recognized around the world speaking at national and international conferences and events in such places as throughout the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, England, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Holland, Canada, and Asia training practitioners to apply solution focused questions and techniques in their work. He has authored or co-authored 4 books including "The Art of Solution Focused Therapy", "Solution Building in Couples Therapy", "The Solution Focused Marriage", and "Solution-Focused Brief Therapy with Clients Managing Trauma".

"Believe: How Trusting the Client Leads Towards the Desired Outcome"

Using the Solution Focused Approach requires a few skills on behalf of the progressional. Perhaps none are more important, or more difficult than maintaining the ability to believe in your client. More specifically, believing in their ability to make changes in their lives that will make their desired outcome their reality. This may seem simple, even easy, but when a client begins to talk about the problem or themselves as the problem, this basic principle becomes hard to stick to. However, once this discipline is mastered, you will be able to more consistently stick to the SFBT process and ask questions that are more likely to lead towards meaningful changes in you client's life. That's what this keynote is all about.

Rob Silver

Hi. I’m Rob. I’m proudly married to Eth, and we have 2 fabulous married kids, 2 excellent kids-in-law, a grandson and a crazy lab named Nugget. I have been working as a school counsellor for about 10 years. During my counselling training at Massey in 2010-11, Brent Gardiner introduced me to Solution Focused Brief Therapy. I have been using SF as my main modality ever since. I am very much looking forward to being part of the conference.

Rob Silver will deliver two workshops.
1. Rob will use vignettes of boys to help develop your understanding of how SFP can be used in a secondary school setting. He will illustrate the use of SF principles including scaling, exception finding, noticing small changes, and types of questions. While Rob’s examples are mainly from a boys only school, the applications will be equally appropriate to all ages and genders.

2. SFP in an Activity Centre (Rob Silver pt 2)
This is for those interested in the work of Napier Community High School, which will be briefly mentioned in Rob’s workshop earlier in the conference. NCHS, which officially operates as an activity centre, will host us on their site (about 5 mins walk from the Conference venue). Those involved will hear about the special mix of differentiated teaching practice, TLC and SFP used at NCHS, as the team skillfully works with young people who struggle to make it in a regular school environment.

Paul Hanton M.A. (SFBT) Reg. MBACP (Accred.)

Paul first came across SFBT when working in a street drug agency in London in 1993. Having attended a 2 day training at BRIEF he was hooked on this practical approach and has used it ever since in a variety of settings such as; Alcohol and drugs work, youth work, in a psychology department and in supervising others. Paul is widely published and has had this said of him, of which he is in equal parts proud, and embarrassed:

“Paul has been a leading figure in the development of solution focused brief therapy in the UK… He will be a major asset to the growing group of solution focused practitioners in New Zealand.”
Chris Iveson – BRIEF.

Apart from that, Paul is happily married with two grown up sons, he is mad about playing and coaching badminton, a Spurs fan and an avid collector of vinyl records.

And when you wake up.....The day after the miracle/wonderful thing has happened, as SF practitioners we are to elicit a rich description of the preferred future. How much time do we spend on that? How rich is this description? I will attempt to garner a really rich description from a volunteer. The conference theme has mind health in the title, imagining, in detail how things could be is a great illustration of this. We will then, if we have time, practice this in pairs:
1. The MQ/preferred future in literature - 5 minutes
2. Demonstration 20 minutes (or even longer)
3. Practice 15 minutes (if time)

Emma Burns

Emma is a registered psychologist, having worked for NZ Police since 2010. She has spent eight years using the Solution Focused approach working with young offenders, and has recently moved into Whängaia Ngä Pä Harakeke, the new approach to family harm within Police. Prior to this, Emma has worked in mental health, education and suicide bereavement. Emma has spoken at the Solution Focused World Conference in Frankfurt in 2017, and at the Australasian Association of Solution Focused Brief Therapy conference in Melbourne in 2018. She is the vice-president of the AASFBT, and coordinates the Hawke’s Bay Solution Focused practitioners group.
Emma is also the mother of four children, and a competitive swimmer.

Whängaia Ngä Pä Harakeke is a new initiative in New Zealand Police, and is to commence in Hawke's Bay in September 2018. This presentation will review the implementation of WNPH, how the solution focused approach has been weaved into this service (including training for police), and some early indicators of how this is making a difference for families affected by family harm. Also presenting with Emma will be Senior Sergeant Greg Brown. Greg is the director of Whängaia Ngä Pä Harakeke in Hawke’s Bay, having returned home after establishing the project in Gisborne.

David Hains

David is a mental health nurse from Adelaide who works in Australia’s busiest emergency department, within a system that insists he examine problems in the most minute detail. He loves SFBT because it gives him some respite from listening to other people’s problems. He strongly believes that it is not only good for his clients, but also that it fits very well with the basic tenants of nursing.
David has won two nursing awards relating to his SFBT work: the 2016 South Australian Premier’s Nursing Scholarship (which took him to Canada to examine the use of SFBT in mental health settings), and the 2018 Achievement Award from the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing.
David is the President of the Australasian Association of Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and coordinator of the South Australian SFBT Community of Practice.
In 2019 David and his family (wife Athena, kids Hannah, Madeline, and Jedidiah) are spending the whole year in the Bay of Plenty on a working holiday.

Taking "Person-centred care" from a cliche to practice (within the mental health setting) using SFBT

One of the most important concepts to come into mental health care (and service provision) in recent times is “person centred care”. Many services espouse to be person centred but have but have no specific policy or practice, and therefore in “real world” service provision it remains simply a concept despite many clinicians believing it is what they want to do. The question remains as to how do we bring this from a concept into practice.
I am reminded of my original nursing training in 1993 when one of the main concepts we were taught was “holistic care”. While in theory this made sense to me, when I entered the nursing work force in 1996 the reality of the medical model being the dominate discourse was obvious even to the novice, leaving little room for holistic care. There are many similarities between holism and person-centred, including the lack of specific working models of care, and the lip service that is often provided.
This presentation will not argue against person centred care, in fact I am a strong believer of putting the person in the centre of what we do. I will however try to show that Solution Focused Brief Therapy can be used as the main tool/therapeutic dialogue to bring a person centred approach into practice.
I hope to include some activities and participant interaction in order to highlight how our conversation are (and perhaps are not) person-centred. I will propose that making our interactions, our teams, and our service more person-centred will actually lead to better outcomes for the client, and a more efficient service.

Brent Gardiner

Brent is Programme Leader for the NZAC accredited Master of Counselling Studies qualification at Massey University, Palmerston North. He first discovered SFBT while studying psychology at the University of Canterbury and went on to learn more about it under the tutelage of Professor Bob Manthei and Associate Professor Judi Miller while completing his Master’s there in the late 90s. He has applied SFP in his clinical practice ever since in a wide variety of settings including ACC sensitive claims work, couple and family work and with individuals. He has also provided numerous SF trainings in various contexts over the past two decades and continues to provide counsellor education, supervision and coaching to practitioners developing SF practice skills.
He was a founding board member of the Australasian Association of Solution Focused Brief Therapy and is honoured to be its first Life Member. He remains a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy.
He lives on a small lifestyle block near Foxton with his wife Carolyn and golden lab Cruze, is the proud Dad of one grown son, currently touring the US playing sax in a rock band, and the equally proud step-dad of Carolyn’s two delightful grown children.

Future Focused Safety Assessment.

This workshop is focused on suicide safety assessment in young people but widely applicable. It will briefly look at the current known effectiveness of traditional risk assessment then explore how we might ask about problems and risk in a conversation that meets professional, ethical and legal expectations while also pointing to hope, possibilities and capabilities. It will include a brief case example and consider how solution focused questions might be utilised in the process.

Judi Miller

Judi Miller PhD

Judi has recently stepped down from her role as Co-ordinator of the Master of Counselling degree at the University of Canterbury and has been teaching SFBT since the mid 1990s. She loves teaching and hopes to instill in students: curiosity, enthusiasm for, and a healthy skepticism of, SFBT.
Wanting to extend knowledge about and respect for SFBT in Aotearoa New Zealand, she has encouraged students to research their own SF practice and published articles and chapters on SF practice https://researchprofile.canterbury.ac.nz/Researcher.aspx?Researcherid=84938
She has also presented papers and workshops at a number of SF conferences (Aotearoa SF Practice conferences (Napier, 2016 and Christchurch, 2017), SFBTA (Wilmington, 2015, and Sante Fe, 2014) and AASFBT (Brisbane, 2013).

Judi lives in Christchurch with Harvey, and two springer spaniels (Eve and Fern) and is trying to retire.

Title: Sharing SF gems I have gathered while working with students.

Gemstones have played various roles in the myths and legends of human cultures throughout history. Some tell a story or are believed to have special powers many of which align with such SF principles as empowerment, hope, joy, envisioning what you want, wellbeing, grounding. For this reason, I consider any learning I gain from my collaboration with students to be a gem.

In this workshop I will use questions that SF students often ask to introduce some useful ways of working. While I’ll demonstrate some aspects of these ways of working, I want to allow time for you to practice in pairs.
1. ‘Surely you need to know something about the client’s problem to help them work towards a preferred future?’ With the help of a volunteer, I will attempt to demonstrate the powerfulness and respectfulness of holding a ‘not knowing’ position.
2. ‘How do you work with a client who wants to know ‘why?’’ Let me introduce what I call an ‘if only’ scenario.
3. ‘Isn’t taking notes disrespectful, and distracting?’ An alternative view of ‘notes’ might be that they help clients focus on what they want.

Perhaps there’s a burning question (concern) you have about the limits of SF – bring that along and we’ll see if we can address that too.

Andrea Lemm

Andrea Lemm is a Registered Social Worker with 15 years of social work experience in statutory child protection social work in Germany, England and in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.

Her passion for solution focused practice started at University in Germany in 2002.
She completed a certificate in Solution focused practice at BRIEF in London in 2008 (huge thanks to Chris Iveson and Guy Shennan her trainers at that time).

Andrea and her family moved to New Zealand in 2012. She has been working as a social worker supervisor at Oranga Tamariki then Child, Youth and Family for the past six years.

Andrea and her friend Roxy Bretton have started a solution focused practitioner group in Dunedin in March 2017.

Andrea is a board member of the Australasian Association for Solution Focused Brief Therapy.

She is a mum of two beautiful children and she loves Rockabilly and Punk music and is collecting vinyl records;-), just like Paul Hanton.

Andrea is passionate about learning the Maori language and culture having recently completed a Diploma in te reo Maori.

Staying solution focused when working with at risk young people - Rangatahi Intensive Support Service - an Oranga Tamariki Initiative in the Lower Southern region.

This presentation will explore innovative ways of working alongside at risk young people. Working within a problem focused environment in child protection and youth offending it is often a challenge to stay solution focused.
This workshop will inform you of creative ways of working at Oranga Tamariki and provide some case examples of solution focused practice.

By attending this presentation you will learn how to

• Be motivated to stay solution focused within a problem focused environment
• Work collaboratively with the community that surrounds the young people and their whānau (family)
• Celebrate successes and create hope

Cate Walton

I am a Registered Nurse, formerly a Plunket Nurse, with additional qualifications in Early Childhood Education and Infant Mental Health. I have now retrained as a counsellor with a passion for SFBT. I’m a mother to four awesome people, and with all my qualifications and interests I have learned to try to see the best in people and to find what works for them. In 1996 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and I have had to find ways to live life in the best way possible.

Life is pretty awesome despite some major challenges, but with the right thinking and the awesome support of my wonderful husband Chris, our children and our best friends, dogs Mittens and Henry, I think I have a pretty cool life.

Living with disability and using SFBT to discover how to live well:

When I started learning about Solution-focused Brief Therapy I realised that this was not just a series of techniques, but rather a way of thinking, about myself, my clients, the world and also about changing the way I responded to and thought about problems.

As a Registered Nurse, I have been taught to problem solve and to help fix what’s broken. However, somethings cannot be ‘fixed’. Because these things are just the way life is there is nothing to be fixed or cured, but there is an opportunity to live well within the boundaries of the realities of one’s life.

As a person living with a disability, I discovered that thinking in a solution-focused way has been really beneficial, particularly over the last 18 months as my health challenges have been difficult to manage.

This seminar will explore what it might mean to live a solution-focused life, what are the tenets of solution-focused thinking that can help and support people living a well within the realities of their lives.

Matt Cameron

I was born in the Waikato and grew up in Morrinsville. My counselling practice has been shaped by several life-shaking experiences. When I was six years old my father died from cancer and that left mum with four children from ages 3 to 12. When I was 19 I was driving to Hamilton and was involved in a car accident in which two people in the other car died. I’ve had relationships that fell apart and others die who were close. I feel empathy with others who have been through grief and loss. At age 20 I worked as a youth worker and that lead me to a degree in Pastoral Care and Theology. At that time, I felt too young or inexperienced to work as a counsellor so I headed to Teachers College and began a teaching career. After about eight years of teaching, I felt the time was right to do some more study and I completed a counselling diploma - while teaching full-time. Shortly after completing my counselling diploma I was offered a part-time job as the South Canterbury grief and loss coordinator, which was a nice fit for my skills and experience.

Applying a Solution Focused approach to Grief and Loss:
We run grief and loss groups for children and more recently adults also, that helps people to talk about their grief and learn skills to live with their loss/es, through a programme called Oceans. I have also completed the Waves training (assisting those bereaved by suicide) and facilitated groups of adults working with their grief.

My first taste of Solution Focused training was in Rotorua with Michael Durrant - two days of supervision training. I found this to be life-changing and instantly embraced the model as I could see how well it fits with my CBT training and would compliment each other. What I liked most was how I could use SF for grief and loss, which generally speaking CBT is not the appropriate model. I have continued to read and apply SF principles and questions to the grief and loss groups work I am leading, along with supervision and generic counselling. It is also helpful when running the facilitator training and meetings with facilitators - setting potential outcomes before the meeting and working towards those best hopes. Not only that, I am constantly using SF in the classroom, on the tennis court, my marriage and parenting. Solution Focus NZ has been a God-send.

Wanda Douglas

Wanda Douglas
MA (Hons)
Registered Psychologist
Wands Psychology Services

Wanda is a Registered Psychologist who has been practising across both public and private sectors since 1996. She was employed with the RNZAF for 7 ½ years and has been a Reservist Military Psychologist with NZ Army since 2002.

She worked in Human Resources in a corporate environment, and as an Executive Coach in Auckland before returning to Hawke’s Bay and setting up her own business in 2010. While she admits to “dabbling” in SF practice early in her career, it is now a key framework used with her clients (both in organisational psychology and performance/sport psychology). Regarding the latter, Wanda is a contractor for High Performance Sport New Zealand, is the Mental Skills coach for the HB Rugby Football Union, conducts mental skills training for the U17 and U18 Hurricanes Camps, the U18 and U21 Hockey NZ Development Camps, and through the HB Regional Sports Park and Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti.

SF Practice In Sport (Case Study)

This workshop will adopt a case-study approach exploring my engagement with a select group of young athletes from HockeyNZ in May 2018. The athletes were part of the U18 Development Camp Pathway to Podium Initiative, driven by High Performance Sport New Zealand. Although my approach is generally eclectic in nature, I will cover specific elements of solution-focused practice that I found helpful in assisting the athletes and their coaches, within a workshop setting, to create a vision, set goals, and engage in reflective practice. Focus areas include the utility of SF-based techniques in sport per se, as well as the use of scaling, goal-setting, and coping strategies.

Mandy Pentecost

I have strayed happily "over the fence" from narrative therapy, into the world of SFBT. I work as a lecturer and manager at a polytechnic, and also as a counsellor. I have two adult daughters. I'm a prolific reader and knitter and occasional poet.

Making a map to the future.

In this workshop I will share a simple adaptation of a goal-setting/planning method from Kirsten Dierholf’s Solution Focused Team Coaching. First the ideal future is fully imagined, then the path to it from the present is filled in. I have been using this art-based tool with groups and individuals, who have responded enthusiastically. After a brief overview, you will work on a map that shows the route to achieving one of your goals.