One of the struggles I experienced in the early days of working as a psychotherapist was feeling the pressure that it was up to me to solve the problem for the client, not only that, I wanted to solve everything in every session. As you can imagine, this was pretty stressful for me. I loved my work but I always felt drained at the end of my day. I remember wondering if could do this for the rest of my career, then thankfully, I was introduced to the Solution Focused Approach and everything changed!
Of the many lessons I learned as a clinician as I studied and practiced using the language of SFBT “going slow” was among the most crucial. In those early days I understood the idea of “going slow” as something I (the clinician) was supposed to be inviting the client to do. As in, moving the client slowly up a scale from problem to preferred future.
In time however, my understanding of the idea of “going slow” has evolved and is now much more specific to the conversation that takes place in session as opposed to the intervention that comes from the session.
For example, often in the Solution Focused Approach we ask clients future focused questions where they are invited to describe the details of their preferred future, “Suppose you woke up one day and your best hopes had somehow become realized, what would you first notice”? Questions like this are developed to invite the client to begin to imagine the details of their life when the preferred future has become real and identify the steps to creating it. However, often times the client’s response jumps the conversation ahead too quickly by saying something like, “I would not be stressed at school”.
This type of response jumps the conversation from waking up to the client already being in school (in this example). Since there may have been some important details between actually opening their eyes and arriving at school that may have been of significant value, it is important that the clinician slow the conversation down and return back to the details of when they were first waking. In this example this could be done by saying something like, “so as you noticed yourself waking up, how would you first become aware that this would be a day that would end up with you not being stressed in school’.
By focusing on the minutest details the conversation takes on trance like pace and each and every detail is explored so no potentially crucial component is missed. This truly has been one of the most crucial lessons in my learning this approach and to this day remains one of the central components of me teaching this way of working.
So, next time you find yourself stuck in session, maybe you could simply go a bit slower.