“We are the hero of our own story.” – Mary McCarthy
Our individual problems manifest themselves in our relationships. That means the problem interferes with our spouse, siblings, friends, parents, etc. Symptoms impact us, but they also impact the way we relate to the people in our systems. So when I am working with individuals, it is important for me to bring the client’s relationship system into the therapy room using conversation and words.
As changes begin to occur in the therapeutic process, it is important to notice how those changes impact those people that are important to the client. These systemic influences that usually pushed the client into therapy quickly turn into the same influences that help the therapeutic progress to be sustainable. Also, when working with individuals, I believe focusing on a future without the problem holds the key for therapeutic success. My interest in the problem that led a person into therapy will be focused on the ways that person has dealt with it. The focus will be on what the person’s life will look like without the problem.
By having a conversation about the future, we are able to design what the client’s best hopes for therapy are. By focusing on the client strengths, and how they were able to deal with the problem prior to therapy, a set of strengths and assets become apparent. The presence of this designed future and the client’s skills provide a map for what steps need to be taken to create that future in the client’s life.
We will also focus on the exceptions to the problem. This means asking the client about the happiest times in their lives and about those times, currently, when the problem is either not present or not as bad. These exceptions provide clues to what the client is already doing to overcome the problem. Often times, these exceptions are occurring outside of the client’s awareness. Once the client becomes more aware of these exceptions, then they are able to expand those times when the problem is not present until ultimately, the problem is gone.