One of the things that often happens when people come into therapy is they come saying self-deprecating things. I’m not very good at this, or I’ve never been able to do that, and I struggled to do this. That’s a very common thing in therapy and Solution Focused Brief Therapy or anything else. We have to know how to address it.
You know, I say this all the time, but if you want to make a difference in someone’s life, you have to change what they see when they look at themselves. In essence, if I look at myself and continue to see flaws and symptomatic behavior and struggles, I will continue to live and experience flaws and symptomatic behavior and struggles. So part of what I have to do is remind clients of their skillset and of their greatness so that they can behave in a very different way that is more in line with their skillset in their greatness.
Let me give you an example. Oftentimes people will say like I struggled to communicate or, couples are notorious for this. Like we’re not good at communicating. But the truth is, everyone is good at communicating. There’s a prominent idea from the field of psychotherapy that says you cannot not communicate.
So one time I was working with this couple and they said, we’re not very good at communicating. And I said, are there ever times where you guys figure out how to communicate? No, we’ve never been able to do it. We’ve always struggled to communicate. And I was like, well, in throughout your entire relationship history, when were you able to communicate at its best?
Never, we’ve never been able to communicate. And then I said, and how did you sort out which counselor you would see and what day and time the counselor, would the session would take place on? And they said, well, we called one another. And we talked about what days worked for whatever. We talked about, what we were looking at for a counselor.
And I said, and how did you know you’d gotten on the same page? Well, he looked at your website and he was pleased with it. And I looked at your website and I was pleased with it. And we came to the conclusion that we both wanted to be at this session. And I said, and how did you figure out what day and time would work?
Well, we, we looked at childcare and all these things, and I said, and if you woke up tomorrow and you were communicating about everything, like you were communicating about scheduling this session, what would you notice? And they said, well, we will be calm. And we would talk gently and softly. And we would keep in mind that we want to achieve a particular outcome.
And what happened was I reminded them that it’s not true, that you haven’t been able to communicate. You actually did communicate. Without effective communication skills this very session wouldn’t have happened. So that’s how you have to deal with it. Is when people say self-deprecating things, you have to remember that it is my job to confront the reality of that self-deprecation because if I don’t do that, I’m not able to provide the adequate variables for change.
So it’s necessary that I have a conversation with them that says, I know it’s been hard, but how have you been able to do it when you’ve been successful? And if you look hard enough, you will always find opportunities to amplify successes. So that’s one example, and that’s what I want you to do. When you hear a client saying things like I can’t communicate and we struggled to do this and we struggled with that. Remember if I look hard enough, there are examples in their lives. And once I find them, I can amplify them and I can ask questions about them and it causes the client to think differently about themselves. And that’s when you’re creating change.