One of the words that I’ve always struggled with in relationship to Solution Focused Brief Therapy is the word curiosity. In fact, if you go back and look at some of my previous videos, I’ve actually said that I don’t think the word curiosity is fitting because being curious implies I want to know something. So someone might say like, Where’d you buy that sweatshirt?
They’re being curious because they want to know where I bought that sweatshirt. But a Solution Focused Brief Therapist is asking questions, not so that they can learn something, but so that their client can learn something about themselves.
So the word curiosity has always been something that I struggled with a little bit. And recently I’ve been thinking about this idea of curiosity and the way curiosity shows up in the session. And I started describing it as radical curiosity. And what I mean when I say radical curiosity is that we’re gonna ask questions based upon anything the client tells us. Like, I’m aware of situations where sometimes your world view as the professional may not trigger you to think of something as significant.
Like for example, you know, money was a difficult thing when I was growing up. I remember my mother was a miracle worker and found a way, but money was a very difficult thing. So if you were doing therapy with my mother and you said, So what’s been well this week? And my mother said, I was able to provide lunch money all week long to my three kids.
You might come from a world where lunch money or food insecurity was just not a part of your life. So that wouldn’t necessarily trigger you to think this was an exception. This was something I needed to make a big deal of. This was something I needed to ask about, about how this person did this, But if you work with my mom, like that was a big deal.
Like literally getting food on the table, literally getting money into our hands so that we could go to school and buy lunch was a miracle. And it was a miracle that my mother pulled off time and time again. So a really relevant question to my mom would be, how did you do that? And what skilled did you draw upon? And what does that say about you?
And all those kinds of questions. But if we stay in our own world view, we don’t get to ask those questions. So instead of like running away from the word curiosity, I think at least at this moment, I’m kind of embracing it. But describing it as radical curiosity, meaning extreme levels of curiosity, meaning ask about every detail and how your client did it.
And that way it’ll ensure that you don’t miss anything. I think what makes Solution Focused Brief Therapy so brilliant is we take everything the client says as evidence of their greatness. We take everything the client says as evidence that they can be successful. But you can only do that if you catch all of the the details regardless of where they come from.
I was working with a person who was doing criminal activity at one point. He was selling drugs and I asked him, what skills did it take to sell drugs? And he told me all the skills. And I said, If you woke up tomorrow and you’re applying those skills in a way that didn’t put you at risk of prison, what would you notice? And he started describing a business he would set up. Years later, I ran into that person and he was a successful businessman, no longer involved in drugs.
So train yourself to treat everything the client says as evidence of their greatness, and you will be practicing radical curiosity.