I have made no secret about it, my childhood years were not easy. When I look back on those years what was most difficult is not what most people would think. It was not the many punches I took from my father or even the frequent rage filled yelling fits I was subjected to throughout those formative years. Without question, for me, the hardest thing to deal with having come from a childhood like what I experienced was the intense focus on my flaws throughout my youth. It was a very frequent occurrence for my father to point out how I had a one flaw or another, often expressing how I was not good enough and would never be good enough for him. A lie told by a scared teen meant I was a liar, a low test score in a hard class meant I was a bad student and a poor athletic performance meant I was a loser. Label after label was affixed to me and they were seemingly always negative. Not surprisingly, I grew up believing those negative labels causing some problems that I would carry with me to adulthood.
Luckily, there were people that would enter my life that would confront those negative labels and challenge me to think differently, and more positively, about myself and what I was capable of becoming. Eventually I learned to believe in myself and pay more attention to my strengths and resources, no longer just focusing on my flaws as if they are in my DNA, unable to be changed.
This led me to the most important realization of my life, a realization that undoubtedly played a significant role in my eventual work as a solution focused practitioner. I realized then when I focused on my resources my beliefs about my future changed. What makes the Solution Focused Approach so different from the traditional approaches to solving problems in the use of resources in the process of solving a problem. When I was first introduced to this way of working in was the focus on the future the mesmerized me, but it was focusing on client resources that transformed my clinical work. It was me realizing the link between resources and thoughts about the future in my own life that led me to a discovery in my work.
When I was first introduced to Solution Focused Brief Therapy, it was hard for me to put into practice with clients. Even though the materials I reading, and everything I was learning about this way of working, was resonating with me, actually having conversations with clients guided by solution focused tenets was a challenge. Until I remembered how important it was in own my life to focus on resources and began to implement this lesson in sessions.
I began to ask clients questions like, “what do you do for fun”, “what are you good at”, what do the people close to you (spouse, friends, co-workers, etc.) believe is your best quality”, and “what skills to you draw upon to be good at…” early in the session. Just as I experienced in my own life, when people spend a bit of time focused on their resources they began to see themselves differently, even if slightly, and this made all of the difference in being able to participate in a solution focused conversation and conceptualize a future without the problem that brought them into therapy.
So, in addition to asking the traditional SFBT future focused questions, first spend a bit of time focusing on client resources. It makes a big diffrrence!