In a lot of ways my career started as the pursuit of clarity. I remember meeting Dr. Adam Froerer in Malmo, Sweden at a conference being hosted there. And we went for a walk and we noticed that there wasn’t much clarity in the Solution Focused world. Like people would say stuff like, in the session you’re supposed to lead your client from behind.
But what does that actually mean? Or there was this phrase, like tap your client on the shoulder and they weren’t talking about literally tap your client on his shoulder. And what does that actually mean? And Adam and I wanted to create clarity about what these topics were like, what do they linguistically mean about what happens in the therapy session?
And recently there’s been another thing that causes me to realize, like we still have to create clarity, and that is the way that Solution Focused professionals view the idea and even the word ‘expert’. So the first time I realized that this is a bit of a challenge is, so Adam and I, Dr. Froerer and I did, what’s called a Delphi study many, many years ago, like a decade ago. And a Delphi study is you establish expertise and you have people that meet that criteria.
And then they go through several rounds of questioning to create the study. And so Adam and I create the criteria on what we would view as experts. And we sent it out into the world and people got upset with us, like in the Solution Focused world, we don’t believe in expertise. And we were like, what? Like that is literally like crazy.
That makes no sense at all. People got super duper mad. There was even one person who got really upset with us, even though they met the criteria, had applied to be a part of the study and been accepted. They still were publicly saying how horrible Adam and I were for this idea of expertise. And I want to address this because this has recently come up.
I’m the Vice President of an organization known as the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association, the SFBTA. And we’re hosting our conference later this year. And the word ‘expert’ appears on our website, apparently because we described some of the people that are doing some teaching at the conference as experts and someone has communicated, like they don’t like this. And I’m thinking like,
this is the craziest thing in the world. And I want to address this to provide clarity. In Solution Focused Brief Therapy, we do not believe in expertise over the client’s life. However, it is ridiculous to not acknowledge that there are experts in the field. For example, Chris Iveson is one of the best Solution Focused Brief Therapist I’ve ever seen. In fact,
I consider him the best Solution Focused Brief Therapy that has ever walked the earth. Evan George, Harvey Ratner, Eve Lipchik, Yvonne Dolan. Like these people are experts on the process of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. It is like you’re just faking humbleness to not acknowledge that there are experts in this field. Like it’s not real humbleness. It’s faux humbleness.
And it’s the type of humbleness that creates confusion and problems. Because if I’m going to host the event and I say, Eve Lipchik and Chris Iveson are going to do teaching, I’m going to say some experts in the field are going to be at this event because they have expertise on the process. Now, do they use that expertise in the session to like tell clients what to do?
And do they use that expertise to try to be experts of the client’s life? No, but to not acknowledge they’re experts is ridiculous. It’s crazy. And it’s just bullshit. It is a problem that we need to overcome. That is not what was intended in the field of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. It is not an accurate way to describe what it is that we do,
but we just do it because somehow we’ve come to value this bullshit, fake expertise humbleness, instead of acknowledging, there are people that are experts on the process. That doesn’t mean they’re experts on clients’ lives. There are lots of people in this field I consider experts. Heather Fiske, in my opinion, a woman named Heather Fiske. She’s a Canadian person.
She lives in Ontario. She is the world expert on using Solution Focused Brief Therapy, when you’re working with clients who are experiencing suicide, that’s just real. That’s just true. To pretend that Heather Fiske is at the same level in this particular topic as some new coming to the approach is horseshit. And we need to stop doing that. Like she is at the same level of other people who have not dedicated the hours on this topic.
The research on this topic, the writing on this topic and the experience in the room working with clients is disrespectful to her learning and her experience. So we need to understand, like none of us are saying that we believe that these people are experts over their clients, but we are acknowledging they’re experts on the process of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. And to do anything other than that, it’s just flat out disrespectful.