These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about questions. I’m working on a lot of projects out in Los Angeles, in the entertainment world. I’ll tell you some more about those projects in the coming weeks and months. But, I’ve been thinking a lot about questions and the way that we use questions in our work as Solution Focused therapists.

So a lot of people think that what we’re doing is asking questions, and that’s true. But the difference between a question and a Solution Focused Brief Therapy question is very specific.

A question’s a very selfish thing. If I ask you a question, I’m forcing you to think about the thing within my question. That’s actually why therapy is very scary.

If you’re the victim of a trauma, if you’ve had horrible things happening in your life, if you’re really struggling, and I ask you questions about the struggle, I’m forcing you to think about the struggle, even when you might not be wanting to do so.

If I ask you a question like, “Where’d you get that shirt?” I’m asking you that because I want to know about that shirt.
So in both of those examples, questions become very selfish.

In Solution Focused Brief Therapy, I’m asking you a question in the hopes that you will say something to improve your life. The point of these questions is to elicit a response from the client that will make a difference for them. So a lot of times as therapists, we’re trying to figure out the client problem, and we’re asking questions as tools of assessment. But I’m actually asking questions to elicit a response so the client can say something to change their lives.

For example, if I’ve experienced a trauma, I’m gonna say something like, “How’d you get through that trauma?” So the client can say out loud things about their resiliency and their strength. As opposed to asking, “Tell me about the trauma.” Because then the client will re-experience the trauma.

It’s really important to understand that difference. Once you do, you can really, really master Solution Focused Brief Therapy. I think this is the fundamental foundation of this approach from which everything else is built.