First, I hope that all of you on the east coast of the United States are safe and getting through the hurricane. I grew up in Franklin, MA, and I can remember several hurricanes during my childhood, but never can I recall this level of fear and anticipation. So please, everyone, stay safe!
I had a thought recently about the solution focused approach that I wanted to share with everyone. If you ever attended one of my trainings, you may have heard me stress how important it is to trust the client when conducting solution focused sessions. This goes beyond just trusting the client’s ideas; this is about trusting in the client’s hopes and their ideas for what they want their future to look like.
When I was first learning this approach, I had the misconception that trusting the client meant relying on the client to develop an intervention (homework assigned at the end of the session). However, it has become clear to me that this was a gross misunderstanding of the true nature of the solution focused approach. Instead, trusting the client means trusting their ideas for what they would like their future to look like. When I ask a client for their “best hopes”, often their best hopes don’t seem to make sense in compared to the reported problem for the session. For example, I saw a couple last week that stated that their best hope was to increase their communication skills and learn to listen better. As I asked them questions about the details of this future, it became clear that some very hurtful things have gone on between these two, and if I had let myself, I would have had different ideas about what their best hopes “should” have been. Instead, I followed their ideas and the conversation was built around a future where they were communicating and listening better.
By trusting the client I ensured that the session would move in the direction that was desirable for the couple, even though my former training would have lead me to do something different.
The honest truth is I am a skeptic by nature, and as I have said before, the SF approach is so simple that it lends itself to skepticism. I am no different; of course I am skeptical, so how can it be so simple? I sometimes meet couples, like the one I am referring to now, and I start to think, “this seems too serious for SF”. However, I trust the model, I trust the client and stick to the language of SF. Time after time I am reminded by clients that by stinking to THEIR best hopes, I am removing my own flawed thinking and trusting them that they know what their future needs to look like.
When this couple returned for the second session, they reported significant improvements throughout their lives (I wish I could go into more details but it would violate their confidentiality). The progress was huge and quite surprising to the each of them, once again reminding me to trust the client!
I have had some of the most amazing teachers and mentors since being introduced to this approach – Linda Metcalf, Chris Iveson, Harvey Ratner and Evan George to name a few – but it has been my clients (over and over again) that have taught me the most important lesson of all, trust.
One more thing – I have completed the series on my YouTube channel! I just posted the last video of the series which discusses closing the session, which you can check out by clicking here. Enjoy!!