What’s in a name?

I’d like to share why I named the method “Figuring Futures”.

One reason is that I use figures like Duplo® dolls, treasure chests and others representative symbols in my training, coaching and therapy sessions.

My aim is to let people figure out what they want to do and how they want to live in the future.

People mainly come to me with their problems which I, on my part, want to reframe as challenges. I’m an optimistic person who wants to give clients a positive outlook and hope. By questioning and building perspectives the clients discovers infinite possibilities.

The other reason is that I like the alliteration of the double F in Figuring Futures. It adds something playful to the method. Though with the material we play seriously. We work with the figures and figure out a beautiful and better future for the client. It is seriously playful!



The Figuring Futures Method, is an extra tool to help coach and client build a strong and deep dialogue by using figures like Duplo® and other symbols.

The tool structures the present situation and gives perspective, starting from the client’s desired image of the future. In doing this, you immediately generate additional perspectives (desired outcomes) and the energy to go for them.

It helps clients to explore their goals, gives them direction and guides them to choose the right path in their life!

In addition, it gives them hope; the client becomes the painter of their own very positive future.


The method is designed for:

Professionals who work as a coach, team leader, supervisor or therapist with individuals, professional teams and families and who wish to experience and use the power of visualization.


More information:

Verbal skills are very important in coaching and therapy, however clients often struggle to express themselves or to find the right words to explain their feelings and situation.

Moreover, they have difficulty in stating their vision for a desired future state.

In contrast, images permit the client to describe their feelings and desired future more easily. The images are often stronger than their words and they will learn more about themselves by using their eyes, hands, ears, as well as their heart.


The Figuring Futures Method is a solution focused (positive) approach in which clients are helped to reconfigure their current situation and create their desired, future perspectives. As well, it gives them insights and energy to handle the situation in their own complex, relational networks, like teams, families or other systems.

The client generates the constellations by means of Duplo® dolls and other figures that we have proved to be successful in reaching these objectives.


Inspired by solution focused therapy, I have used this method in every coaching session (since 2008) to give clients insights into their life and perspectives.

This tool gives the skilled coach significant opportunities to emphasise, reinforce and empower the client’s strengths and coping skills by using specific figures in combination with appreciative questions.

Clients learn to interact meaningfully and connect to significant others in their life, encouraging development and well-being.

It is also helpful for the coach, to understand the client’s view of the problem and how they define their perspectives or solutions. It offers the opportunity to share different perceptions and to communicate beliefs, wishes and feelings that may have otherwise remained unspoken.


Figuring Futures is a very flexible tool suitable for a wide range of clients e.g. children, teenagers, adults. You can use it in many work situations, at an organizational, team, family and personal level, in coaching, therapy, teamwork, education, case study, supervision, etc.


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


What can you expect when you 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 will have learned much about:

  • The necessities (e.g. a “treasure chest” refers to positive personal characteristics and meaningful resources or acquaintances)
  • 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 3 day session.


About Elke Gybels:

I’m the founder of “De Context” and work as a therapist, coach and trainer with individual clients and groups. I also work as a lecturer at the University College Leuven-Limburg, Belgium. I’m responsible for different post graduate courses and teach about solution focus, communication and how to talk with families.


My mission is to connect people to themselves and to significant others in their lives. I use Duplo® (from LEGO®) and other figures to give clients insights into their life.

With the figures I give structure to the conversation. We explore what might be useful for the client to build a future in his context, based on his specific desires, hopes, dreams, strengths and resources and willingness to take action. By building and questioning we unlock together new positive perspectives and embrace possibilities.

You can find pictures and slides of the presentations I gave at international conferences by clicking on "referenties en feedback". Feel free to contact me with further questions.


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 Focusec 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