Earlier today I had a conversation about Solution Focused Brief Therapy that was unlike any other conversation I’d ever had, and it was so amazing and wonderful, I wanted to share an aspect of it.
These days in my life, I get interviewed a lot. I get interviewed by large newspapers, podcasts, and it’s just growing and scaling, and it’s fun and it’s amazing.
Earlier today I got interviewed for a newsletter that is associated with the Erickson Foundation, which of course is associated with Dr. Milton Erickson. The person interviewing me, we were talking about what we think therapists do to make a difference in their clients’ lives when using something like Ericksonian approaches or Solution Focused Brief Therapy, which is often referred to as the grandchild of Ericksonian approaches. One of the people that studied Dr. Milton Erickson really closely was Steve de Shazer, who went on to found Solution Focused Brief Therapy. So that’s why they call Solution Focused Brief Therapy the grandchild of Dr. Milton Erickson.
So anyway, we were having a conversation about how that works and this person said, “In preparation for this interview, I watched a lot of your content online.” is what this person said. And he’s like, “You’re so positive and you exude positivity.” And he said, “Has anybody ever talked to you about how that impacts the work that you do?” And I said, “No.” And he talked about how just that is a kind of a trance-like thing. And we ended up talking about how a person’s mood can be contagious. And we know that that’s true.
If you’re ever around someone that’s super negative and super complaining and really, really difficult, their mood can become contagious, just being around them can have a negative impact on your life. Or have you ever been around someone who’s really anxious just being around them? You find yourself also being really anxious because energy like that human mood can be contagious.
So too can positivity and enthusiasm. And we had a conversation about exactly that, how that shows up in the session. Is it important that you ask the kind of questions that produce change? Of course. Is it important that you do good therapy? Of course. But one of the things that’s also important is that you are enthusiastic about the work that you’re doing, in however you show enthusiasm.
You don’t have to be jumping around in excitement, but you have to be someone that believes in your client. Demonstrate that through your energy, through your questions, through your language, through your vocal tone, through all of those things. And you have to be able to hold onto it.
One of the reasons enthusiasm and energy is so important is because when you have enthusiasm, then you hold onto it. Because when clients come to us, they’re not the most enthusiastic version of themselves. They’ve gone through something really difficult, and sometimes that thing is so difficult, it prevents them from being able to dream about a new future, to dream about a life without the problem that is currently bothering them.
I have seen so many examples of therapists falling into that trap, and then they lose their belief in that client. They end up emailing me and asking me questions like, “What do you do with a client who wants to be stuck in the problem?” When I hear those questions, I’m like, “That’s ridiculous, nobody wants to be stuck in a problem. It’s just so difficult and so dark and so hard for them that they don’t know what else to do.” It’s through your enthusiasm, through your belief in them, that they regain their ability to dream. And that’s really what our work is all about.
Our work is about helping people heal and helping people change. It’s not about solving problems. It’s about inspiring people to be their best selves, which empowers them to solve their problem and enables them to solve all of the problems that are coming their way in the future.
So remember how important it is that you be a contagion when you’re in your therapy for positivity, enthusiasm, and let your client react to that and respond to that. It makes the biggest difference in your work. That’s the biggest lesson I want you to get.
It was a joy to talk to the interviewer today. I’ll send out an email, I’ll let people know when the interview goes live. I’m not sure when it’s gonna appear in their newsletter.