People ask me all of the time about mastering the Solution Focused Approach and how they can do so in their work. I know they think there is some magic secret that will unlock their skills once they discover it. The truth is much simpler, and in this video one of the best Solution Focused clinicians shares exactly what is needed (and it’s so simple it’ll surprise you)
Elliott: Okay, so I’ve talked to you guys forever and ever and ever about the art of asking questions and asking Solution Focused Brief Therapy questions being a skill and a craft and things you have to get better at. And kind of what started me on that journey is meeting a man named Chris Iveson early on in my learning about Solution Focused Brief Therapy. It’s been important for me because it helped me understand Solution Focused Brief Therapy beyond just as a theory, but moving towards like a craft and a skill and something that needed to build my skill set I had to get better at doing. And that was a significant shift in my work. So I thought it’d be really cool to have Chris join me and help me to explain what he thinks are the important things and what he thinks you need to do to be able to get really good at asking Solution Focused questions in your sessions that are more likely to help the client create change and move their lives towards a desired outcome. So Chris, explain to people what it is that you think helps people master this art of asking questions?
Chris: Sticking at it would be probably the biggest thing because when you’re starting out, you don’t feel very confident. And when things don’t work, you are prone to giving up. So I was going to give up, ooh, probably in my seventh or eighth week of learning this with my two colleagues, Evan George and Harvey Ratner. We taught ourselves how to do it mainly from Steve de Shazers book ‘Clues’. And at that time, like in the 1980s, we worked largely through exceptions, exploring exceptions. And I found myself working with an agoraphobic woman who there seemed to be no exceptions to her problem, and I was going to give up but Harvey and Evan, said I couldn’t get up and they made me see this woman again and, surprise, surprise, it worked very, very dramatically. But I might’ve given up if it hadn’t been for my two colleagues.
Chris: So one thing is to stick at it, don’t expect to be brilliant. The other thing is that back then, while I was definitely not brilliant, but it still worked. It still worked as well as it does now. I might be a little briefer now, a little smoother sometimes, but I’m no better in terms of outcome. So sticking at it is crucial. The other thing that Elliott would have just told you this, and told you this, and told you this, and told you this, is you have to know or adopted the position, that clients can get themselves out of the holes that they’re in. You have to believe that clients can do it. You have to believe that somewhere within them they have a way-with-all to take the next step in their life towards a better future. Always talking about taking another, a different step, a slightly different direction in life towards a better future.
Chris: You have to believe that people can do that and to develop that belief, you have to stop grubbing around in people’s problems, because the more you talk about people’s problems, the more hopeless you get and the more difficult the whole thing becomes. So just trust that all clients have resources. And in some ways, the clients that you’re going to do best with are the ones that are in the most difficulty because they’re the ones that we’ve got the most to gain. So don’t be afraid of those clients who have multiple problems. Seek them out. Do this stuff with them. You’ll be amazed at the outcomes. Elliott what else? What else should I say? What else do I know that I forgotten that you can remember?
Elliott: You know Chris, I that’s it! So there you have it. Who I consider to be the best person in the world doing this. In fact, the best who’s ever done it. It’s a craft. It’s a skill. You have to work at it. And the number one thing is to, don’t give up. And remember that all of you who send me those emails and comments about like, how do you use this with clients with these really big problems, like Chris would say exactly what I would say, is sometimes those are the clients that have the most significant shifts in this approach. So hang in there. Say ‘bye’ Chris. Bye!