So I wanna be very clear about this. Very clear. The word Brief only exists in our field for one reason.

Did you guys study the MRI team? They are the reason that the word “Brief” exists in our field. Because when they started doing their work, the only therapy that was being done was called psychoanalysis, which is two to three sessions a week, for three to five years.

So the MRI team asks themselves a very important research question. Research starts with a question. I remember that. All good research starts with a question.

All great research starts with a question. So the MRI team, their question was, “Can we reduce the amount of sessions without sacrificing outcome?” That was the question. In MRI, Paul Vic, and all those guys. “Can we reduce the amount of therapy without sacrificing outcomes?” Which is very important, by the way.

One of the things that is really important to me is social justice. So if therapy stayed only psychoanalysis, would the single mom on the south side of Fort Worth be able to afford two to three sessions a week for three to five years? No. Right. Not happening. So the MRI team said, can we do it in fewer sessions? So what they did was they created a 10 session experience and then started to experiment to see, can it happen?

And what they found is it can. So basically the word “Brief” means “not that”. That’s what the word Brief means. Now, in our current world, we think Brief means hurry up. And it doesn’t. Brief just means not psychoanalysis.

Now, what Solution Focused Brief Therapy did, so what they did in Palo Alto, and I’m really sad that they sold it, the MRI building has been sold, and it is gone. If you’ve ever had the chance to visit, it’s the craziest thing, where this building was, was literally in like the richest neighborhood on earth, like Mark Zuckerberg lived nearby. Like, this is a crazy place. And then here’s the building where our field was created.

Now they were doing unbelievable research. Again, the sample size came from the richest part of our planet. So we have to remember who they did research on. But, “Strategic” started there, “Structural” started, all of these approaches started in this place. And Solution Focused Brief Therapy was one of them. Paul Vic introduced Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg because he thought Steve being this researcher, he had met Insoo, and he thought they would get along professionally. Of course, they got married and so, he was correct. But the interesting thing about that, Steve, his hometown was Milwaukee. So when they got together as a couple, they decided to move back to Steve’s hometown. And they decided, let’s replicate what we were doing in Palo Alto. Let’s give clients 10 sessions, see what happens.

But then they had this, what ended up being an earth shattering idea. This is literally how the approach Solution Focused Brief Therapy got created. They said, “What if we just don’t tell the clients how many sessions they have and we treat every single session as if it’s the last time we’ll meet. Let’s see what happens.”

And what they learned was in MRI, the clients knew they had 10 sessions. So there was an urgency that built throughout the therapy. And the client seemed to be working harder towards the 10th session than in the beginning. So the very first change that led to Solution Focused Brief Therapy was, “We’re not gonna tell the clients how many sessions they have.” And they noticed there was an urgency right away.

So for us, what Brief means is, we treat every single session as if it’s the last session. It doesn’t mean if I see my client 10 times I’m failing or any of that. It just means each and every time we meet, we understand there’s a potential that this is the last time we’ll interact.

Now, I’m gonna tell you, there are people in this field that are gonna say crazy things to you. Like “You actually think you can solve someone’s problem in one hour?” No, I don’t, actually. I also don’t think you can solve it in a hundred billion hours, because we’re not here to solve people’s problems. But what we can do in one hour is completely reorient someone’s life.

And all of you have had it happen. Like, have you ever been just plodding through life, living, not really doing anything, just going through life, and then you met a person and your life was forever changed by that interaction? Why can’t therapy be that interaction? Now, it doesn’t have to be, the goal isn’t to get the client out in one session, but oftentimes that’s the outcome.

Because once someone is thinking about their future in a different way, they just can’t be the same. That’s just the human experience. They just can’t be the same. Like when I was 19 years old, laying in that dorm room bed, thinking about the end of my life, I literally just decided, I asked myself two questions. My life has not been the same since. My first question was, “Can I live to outlive this pain?” My second question was, “If I do that, what does that look like? How will I know I’ve gotten there?” Those two questions changed my life.

Why can’t therapy be the thing that changes people’s lives?