Let me tell you quick story. This past weekend I was scheduled to lecture about the Solution Focused Approach at a large national conference. Leading up to this event I was very excited. I was going to be teaching with one of my very best friends, plus this event was not specifically for a solution focused audience.
I enjoy teaching SFBT to just about anyone, but there is an added layer of excitement when I get to teach students who are just learning about this approach or experienced clinicians who may have extensive training in another approach but not so much in the Solution Focused way of working. Both would be the case at this past weekend’s event.
One of the things I like about teaching to the above mentioned audiences is the opportunity to dispel many myths that exist about this approach. These myths are almost always negative and inaccurate but, yet, somehow they exist. I have heard people say things like “this approach isn’t supported by research”, in spite of both SAMSHA and NAMI listing it as evidenced based. I’ve heard people say that it is a “Band-Aid” approach, in spite of the fact that there are many studies that demonstrate that this approach has been effective with serious diagnosis and over a long period of time.
However, what I heard this past weekend was by far the most ridiculous thing thus far. Once my part of the conference was completed, I decided to stay for the remainder of the event. One day, as I was walking through the main hall of the conference, someone approached me and asked if I was the Solution Focused guy. When I said I was, they explained to me that a professor had told a friend of theirs that SFBT was “Whack a Mole” therapy and, thus, they would never go to a training geared towards this approach.
I was furious! It drives me nuts that people hold such beliefs and opinions of this approach even though there is a significant body of research to the contrary. I was furious, but more than that I was shocked, and even more than that I was motivated. I have been driven to spread the word and efficacy of SFBT thoughout the psychotherapy field. After this experience, I see there is still a lot of work to do.
I have learned a long time ago that many people, including myself, have a hard time with acceptance and with recognizing their need for growth which involves a scaring mental skill of letting go of the familiar and “comforting” ideas and reaching out with curiosity and optimism the things that life offers in order to make things better.
I admire and am encouraged by you and all your hard work and dedication to teach Solution Focused Approach. Keep up the great work sir.
I agree with you that it is hard for people to let go of what is familiar and be open to something new. I just wish that people would not attack what is unfamiliar nor ignore the facts, such as the research.
I thought of two replies right away… which I assure you I never would have been able to do when confronted with a disdainful nay-sayer.
1) “I suppose… and psychodynamic therapy is like Tetris… you get deeper and deeper until you just die.” (that’s the rude and prejudiced option. I don’t recommend it; I don’t even like that I thought of it… but Freud did say that humor is the highest form of defense!)
2) “Could be whack-a-mole… but the solution a client might find through SFBT would be to pull the plug on the machine! Or maybe go for a walk instead of to the video arcade.”
3) just thought of a better one: “Nope– it’s Minecraft: you get to build your own whole world, one block at a time!”
Keep on keepin’ on, Elliott. Lotta love out there for SFBT. You must have made an impact to get a reaction!
Best wishes from HOT So Cal (but it’s a DRY heat),
Alison in Pasadena
I laughed way harder than I should have at #1 above. The therapist across the hall from me works from a psychodynamic model and always complains that I seem to get better clients than her, because hers are always miserable, while mine seem to leave my office laughing, smiling, and generally feeling pretty good about things. I think I’ll stick with whacking moles, thanks.
I love this responses Alison! Especially number 3!! Lol
I Am thinking about using utilization.
Hi Elliott. ..I hope you can learn to not take people’s stuff personally. ..People get threatened. when they’ve spent years in graduate school, learning difficult theory and statistics. ..then along comes some young upstart with this new approach, and it threatens their identity and all they believe in. ..It’s not you. ..You are positive and kind and sensitive. ..I hope you don’t let them get to you. ..
Hey Dr. Di,
I try not to take it personally, and for the most part do ok at that task, but sometimes when the statements are this disrespectful it is tough. It is also hard because it shows me how much work there is for us in SFBT community to build credibility throughout the field.
Ill keep working at it!
We will keep doing what is best for us. It may not be the best option for the professor so his response towards ST was different.
True, but since he (or she) is an educator he has a duty to stay informed and properly educate his (or her) students. This professor fell short.
You are making a big difference Elliott. I love your posts.
I just posted this on Linkedin today. Seems like it’s relevant.
Remain Focused. Ignore the critics and the haters.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” – Churchill
Thanks so much Dominic! I love that quote by the way.
I don’t believe we need to be so divisive. I use a variety of approaches that best fits the needs of my clients. I teach SF Play therapy to my students as well as psycho dynamic approaches in an Intro to Play Therapy grad school class. Ultimately, it’s not the approach, but the therapists warmth, genuineness and unconditional positive regard that is a curative factor in ALL of our work.
While I completely agree with the second part of your post, I very much disagree with the first. When you say you use the approach that best matches the clients need, how to you decipher what the approach matches the client’s need? There is no research supporting the idea that treatment should be matched to client issue.