This past weekend, I went to Chicago, Illinois. I was doing a lecture at a conference, but I always love going to Chicago because that’s the city where I was born. So there’s a lot of nostalgia there for me. And I often go to like the first house I remember living in as a young, young, young person. I also love going there because my mother lives in Chicago and I was able to go spend some time with my mom, which I don’t often get to do. And it was really, really touching.
These days. The most amazing thing that I get to see is my mother’s smile. I love to watch my mother’s smile because I remember when there was no smile on my mother’s face. I remember when my mother’s life was, there was just a lot of trials. I remember the hardships and watching my mother go through hardships.
In these days, I watched my mom’s smile. And it touches me. It makes me emotional, even now as I talk about it, because it’s a beautiful, wonderful thing. So why am I saying that to you? Why am I talking to you about my mother’s smile? I’m talking to you about that because I want people to know, like, I want my story and my life to inspire you.
I want it to inspire your work that you do with clients. I want you to hold confidently, the belief that anyone can get through anything. And my mother is an example of that. My life is an example of that. Too often I hear people say, they say at conferences, like, I like Solution Focused Brief Therapy and I use it with some of my clients, but it’s a band-aid approach. It doesn’t really work with people who have serious issues and that’s not true.
The most powerful thing that help people overcome troubling, traumatic, difficult life circumstances is hope. It’s the most powerful substance in the world. And in Solution Focused Brief Therapy, like literally within minutes of meeting your client for the first time you’re going to ask them what are their best hopes from working together?
You’re literally going to ask them about their best hopes within minutes of meeting them. You’re bringing the most powerful thing into their lives very quickly upon meeting them. I want you to understand that Solution Focused Brief Therapy is not a collection of techniques. It drives me crazy when people say I like Solution Focused Brief Therapy. I use the miracle question sometimes with my clients. I like Solution Focused Brief Therapy.
I use some of the questions sometimes. Solution Focused Brief Therapy is not simply a collection of techniques. It’s an understanding of the impact of hope and then deploying hope through questions. That is Solution Focused Brief Therapy. But the problem is we don’t teach it that way. In graduate school, we teach just about techniques because that’s really what we have to learn in graduate school so we can pass our licensing exam and, and all those things.
But to be effective with your clients, you have to know, you have to know how to deploy hope through your questions. And that’s an art. That’s a skill. That’s a craft. Now I have been for the past, more than a decade committed to this. Like I made a promise to myself,
when I, when I go into this field, I’m going to, I’m going to work and really, really do good work. Like that was honestly my commitment to myself. I never imagined I’d be like a leading voice in, in a field. I never imagined I’d be writing books, doing lectures, any of that stuff just never, never imagined it.
But as it started, I made myself a promise that I’m going to tell the truth. And the truth is your job as a Psychotherapist goes way beyond technique. It goes to your client’s heart. Your job is to inspire them. Your job is to provide hope through your questions. And I’m telling you if my mom can smile the way I saw her smile this past weekend,
you know when you see people and they look like they don’t have a care in the world, they just look satisfied. That’s the look I now see on my mother’s face. And if my mom could have that look in her face, your clients can too, but you have to first understand that your job is to deploy hope through the questions process.
That’s the art and the skill and the nuance of doing Solution Focused Brief Therapy well. I’m inspired about this because I loved my mother. And I remember watching what my mom went through in dealing with my dad. And, you know, she’s got three sons and we weren’t perfectly behaved all the time. And living in Massachusetts. And one of the only African-American families in a place called Franklin,
Massachusetts, which is where I went to high school. And just dealing with a lot. And I’d left Chicago just so inspired by my mother’s smile that it made me want to touch you guys. I want, I want you to understand that that’s what this process is all about. That’s what this work is all about. You know, I do trainings all the time.
We just opened registration for a training about using Solution Focused Brief Therapy with trauma, in part inspired by the experience I had with my mom. In the first day, literally first 24 hours, we had 1300 people sign up. So I’m so excited because I think people are starting to get it. I think people are starting to understand. I think people started to believe,
and I think people are starting to take their work beyond techniques because that’s what your clients need for you to do. You know, I wish to God, you know, in the early nineties that someone had suggested my mother go see a really skilled or really talented or a really heartled Solution Focused Brief Therapists, because I think it would have changed the direction of my mother’s life.
But what’s really, really amazing to me since no one sent her to see a Solution Focused Brief Therapist, one of her sons turned into one and I get to have hope built conversations with my mom and watch the impact that has on her life. And again, not like I’m doing therapy with my mom. I just always talked to my mom about loving,
positive hopefilled things. And it has a very strong impact on both of us. And if it can impact my mom in that way, it’s amazing what it could do to your clients. So the simple message I have for you this week is remember the power of hope. Remember to take your work beyond the techniques, remember that it’s so much more about deploying hope through our questions than it is of you mastering questions.
And I hope you will remember my mother’s smile!