Hello and welcome to episode 10 of Don’t Forget with Anna Francis. I’m Anna Francis, the CEO of the SFU, and a registered counselor in New Zealand. This video series is all about sharing my thoughts, ideas, and reminders about things we so often and easily forget when we’re learning and practicing Solution Focused Brief Therapy. In each segment I focus on one key thing that I hope helps you while you’re on your learning journey or keeping your Solution Focused Brief Therapy skills sharp.
For this episode, I want to talk to you about the power of presuppositions, and offer a reminder that this is how we compliment and hold belief in our clients. The definition of a presupposition is a thing tactically assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or a course of action. So in context of Solution Focused Brief Therapy, a presupposition is asking questions with the assumption that our clients are capable of change and they have past experiences, strengths, skills, and characteristics that will enable the change that they are looking for.
This is how we wrap up compliments, unwavering belief, and hold hope in our questions while maintaining client autonomy, which is so important. It’s so easy to feel compelled to see our client’s greatness and want to offer direct compliments, let them know that they’re doing a great job, that you know that they can achieve their desired outcome, and that everything’s going to be okay.
But the issue with directly complimenting our clients, and telling them that they’re doing a great job, and that you know that they can achieve their desired outcome, and that everything is gonna be okay, is that they can all be rejected or argued against, which is a sure way to get stuck or at least derailed, which at best is super uncomfortable, and it can shift the session to us attempting to convincing our clients of what we think and see, making the session now about us, and not them.
I was discussing SFBT with a friend the other day, and they had experienced an awesome Solution Focused mini session during a practice call in our SFU membership community. Now, my friend was very new to the approach at the time, so she didn’t really have a lot of experience, and hadn’t been a client. And so she told me that the one thing that really stood out to her during her interaction with this therapist, was that the therapist told her, told her, never ever forget all the great mom things you’ve done. And she said that really had such a lasting impact on her.
So this struck up a conversation about whether the therapist actually said that, or if the questions presupposing she was a great mom had made her feel so good that she had re-experienced herself as the great mom that she is, and that she’d held onto that feeling what she then interpreted as being told that.
Now I know the therapist that asked these questions, so I know there’s zero chance that she told my friend, never ever forget all the great mom things that you’ve done. So I pressed my friend to find out what and how she had been asked these questions that left her feeling so good, and it turns out that she was asked to compile a list of great mum things that had stood out to her the most. Now, my friend couldn’t remember the exact questions that she asked, but she does remember that the way she was asked these questions, and that it did assume that she was a great mom.
So the therapist might’ve asked questions like, “What are your 10 favorite great mom memories of all of your great mom memories? Which ones stand out the most?” Now, these presupposing questions assume that there’s many a great mom memories and great mom experiences to choose from. Rather than asking, “Can you remember a time when you were a great mom?” Because this could very easily lead to a no.
This conversation really got me thinking about times in my own life where people close to me have used presuppositions and how they’ve left me feeling because it feels really good and how since understanding the power of them has changed how I interact with my kids and my young nibbling and the impact that it may be having on them too. — And in case you didn’t know, the word nibbling is the term for nieces and nephews, and it is my all time favorite word, so you can use it now too.
Presuppositions is such a great way to wrap up and deliver compliments to our clients. Changing those compliment statements, “You are so strong.” Or, “I think you’re amazing.” Or, “I’m so proud of you.”
To, “Wow, where did you get the strength to handle that?” Because that presupposes they have strength.
Or, “What skills did you draw on the most as you navigated through that?” That presupposes that they have a variety of skills.
Or, “What are you most proud of with how you handled that situation?” It presupposes there’s a lot of things to be proud of.
All of these examples that I just gave you, expressed to the client that I hold the belief that they have the skills, the strengths, the characteristics, required to handle things even when they’re challenging.
So I have a challenge for you, if you’re up for it, if you’re able to record a session, even if it’s a mock session, otherwise just practice with someone, or just make a conscious effort to notice in your upcoming sessions, to see how many questions you ask that you could change into a presupposition, or try re-asking it in a presupposing way.
It’s fine to re-ask a question, and see what you notice about how your clients respond. And see what I did there, I presuppose you’re going to notice a change, and how your clients respond.
So don’t forget to wrap up your compliments, belief and hope in your clients in presuppositions. And, don’t forget to ask your questions that assume your clients are everything they need to be to create the change that they want.
Now, if this is something you’re already been doing more of compared with before, I would love to hear what you’ve noticed since starting to ask more presupposing questions around your sessions, and how they’re going.
Thank you so much for joining me for this Solution Focused snippet. And I really hope that this reminder helps you as you continue to grow your skills and confidence.
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