First, a good question is one that produces a useful response from the client. As I travel and teach clinicians to use Solution Focused language in their work it has been made clear to me how hard this approach is to learn and subsequently master. It is not enough just to learn what the questions are, miracle question, exception questions, etc. You have to understand the nuances of how to ask them in session so that they build on one another and build a fluid conversation.
In addition, the questions have to be posed in a way that allows the client to answer in a meaningfully. Something that always bothers me is when people tell me they don’t like to use SFBT because they tried to ask the miracle question and the client could answer it. I am always left thinking, how did you ask this question? Did you use the client’s worldview in the construction of your question?
The best way to ensure that a question is answerable is to make sure you use the client’s language and worldview as you build your question. I had a client in the early days of my practice that taught me the importance of making sure I use the client’s life to build my question.
When I was taught this approach I learned the original script of the miracle question, “suppose you went to sleep one night and as you slept a miracle occurred that solved all of your problems. When you woke up the next morning what would you notice that would let you know that the problems had been solved?” However with this one particular client let me know that she was not sleep through the night, she explained that she had a you baby that had become colic and spent the entire night crying. She went on to explain that she only slept for approximately 2 hours in the afternoon.
Can you see how if I had asked the miracle question per the script it would not have been answerable due to her not being able to connect with the idea of sleeping through the night. Instead I asked, “suppose one day a miracle happened that resolved your problems and made you best hopes become a reality. And of all times of this great thing to occur, it took place during that 2 hours in the afternoon while you were sleeping, so you missed it when it actually happened. When you woke up, what would you notice that would let you know things were different?”
Can you see how by using this client’s language and details from her life it becomes more answerable? By tailoring our questions to our clients we furthering ensureing the sessions are about them and sticking closely to their lives and best hopes. This takes practice and intentional focus in session.
So, as you go forward using SFBT is session, practice using their words and life details as you ask questions.