Just about every time I teach about the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Diamond, people ask about “How do you close a session?” And I know the reason that they ask me that is because they feel underwhelmed by going through the Diamond in such great detail, then getting to the end, and we don’t really teach a whole lot about how to close a session. And that’s because there’s actually not much to it.

The important part of wrapping up a session is to not sabotage your client’s ability to change and don’t ruin the work that has happened. Like my colleague Adam Froerer always says, “The conversation itself is the intervention.” So we don’t have to spend time at the end of the session coming up with an intervention. Let me explain to you what I mean by that.

One of the first clients I ever saw in my work was a couple, I’ll never forget it. They came to my office and they were going at it, arguing with each other, going back and forth. Those of you that remember MySpace as the first social media platform, the husband had caught the wife on MySpace talking to an ex-boyfriend, and it was just crazy. And they were so upset.

The fight was about he wanted to stay in the relationship, and she wanted to stay in the relationship. But in order for him to stay in the relationship, she needed to give him her email passwords and her MySpace password. And she didn’t want to do it. And they argued and argued and argued.

I did my best Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Like, “What difference would it make if you guys find a way to go forward?” And, “Suppose you woke up tomorrow, whether you had the password or not, what would you notice that would give you a clue that you were moving forward in the right direction?” All those kind of questions.

I felt good about the therapy I’d done, and I managed the argument and fight as much and as best as I possibly could. But here’s where it becomes amazing.

I got to the end of the session and genuinely didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know to be like, go do this intervention, or go do that intervention. So instead I was like, “I just want you guys to notice evidence of change. Just please notice evidence of change between now and the next time we talk.”

I didn’t know if they would come back or not. But sure enough, two weeks later, they came back. I walked into my lobby and they were cuddling on the couch, holding hands, laughing… a completely different couple.

So when they walked in, I said “So, what’s been different?” And the wife said, “He did the number one thing I needed him to do to make me feel loved.” And I said, “What is that?” And she said, “He made the bed with me in it.” I was so puzzled. I was like, “What?” And she said, “Have you ever been laying in a bed, and someone floated sheets onto you? It’s the most kind, nurturing, caring, feeling. And only someone who loves you would do something that makes you feel so nurtured. When we were dating in the early part of our relationship, he used to do that for me and I loved it. And he went and did it again.”

I remember thinking, if I had given this couple a task to do, I would’ve ruined their change, because there’s no way I would’ve done that. There’s no way I would’ve suggested that he make the bed with her in it. I just wouldn’t have known to do that. But when you leave couples to their own devices after a change worthy conversation, they’re capable of profound change.

So I asked the woman “What difference did it make to you that he did that?” And she said, “I felt loved.” I said, “So what’d you do next?” She said, “I gave him my passwords.” And I was like, “Whoa. Like holy cow. Like, it just changed that quickly?” And she was like, “Yes.”

So just remember, your job is not to give some sort of groundbreaking intervention at the end of the session. Your job is to create enough environment factors for change, that change is more likely than not, that change is more likely to happen than not happen. Because then when you just let a couple go without sabotaging, then they’re off to make the kind of changes that they wanna make. And, because they’re autonomous changes, meaning they’re changes that the couple decided to make, they take credit for them. And that has much more long lasting impact on a relationship.

So when you’re doing therapy, in particular, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, make sure you don’t sabotage your client’s ability to change. That’s your number one responsibility.