Today. I want to share something that I call the ‘Reverse Miracle Question’. Now, as most of you probably know the miracle question is about asking the client about the presence of the desired outcome occurring in their future and the way that we get there, as we say to clients, things like, suppose you woke up tomorrow and the thing you’re wanting most, whatever it was like, so let me give you a more specific example.
Like, let’s say I’m working with a client who wants to be happy. I’m going to ask the miracle question about their future that sounds like, “Suppose you woke up tomorrow and were happy. What would you notice?”… So on and on and on. The miracle question is always about the future. It’s always about tomorrow.
A lot of people, the guys in London at Brief, call it the ‘Tomorrow Question’, but it’s always about the future. But through the work that I’ve been doing with Adam, we realized that there are so much richness in noticing in the past. So the reverse miracle question is, if you say something like “When happiness showed up in the past, how did you notice it?”
Right. So the miracle question is a, “How would you notice it?”, kind of a question and the reverse miracle question is a, “How did you notice it in the past?” So I would say to a client, “So when your happiness showed up in the past, how did you notice that happiness was there? How did people around you notice you were happy? What difference did that happiness make in your life?”
So you ask a whole bunch of “How did you notice?” questions and extrapolate the same level of detail? You know, for years and years and years, people viewed Solution Focused Brief Therapy as a future oriented approach and that’s not necessarily true. It’s a ‘detail’ oriented approach. It’s a ‘difference’ oriented approach. It’s an approach about what impact, the outcome you are in pursuit of, showing up in your life would make for you.
Like that’s what this is all about. And that’s why you have to have the skill of asking clients about their tomorrow, when their outcome becomes their reality. But you also have to be able to ask clients about their past when their outcome was their reality. Now, the obvious question is, but Elliott what about a client who’s never been happy?
So listen, it’s not, that’s not the case. If a client tells you that they want an outcome, it means they’ve had at least a bit of it at some point in their life. Now, look, I’ve been working with clients for a long time, and I know sometimes is going to say something like I’ve never been happy. My partner and I have never gotten along, or I’ve never been this way, I’ve never been that.
But you always know there are exceptions whenever someone says, never. A matter of fact, whenever they say never or always, you know, that there are exceptions to those rules. So please, please, please, when someone says, “I’ve never been happy”, if they’re telling you they now want to be happy, there must have been some bit of happiness that showed up in their path, which makes them know that they want it now.
So, so it’s so important to recognize that the outcome is about what would you notice, but it’s also important to recognize that clients have had their outcome in the past. And we should also ask them, how did you notice and what impact it had on the past. You can literally spend an entire session doing a reverse description. And the reverse miracle question is exactly how to do it.
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