I’m here at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington DC and there’s been something on my mind the past few days that’s been happening more and more in my teaching. It’s been happening more and more in my events. It’s been happening more and more around when I lecture and I want to talk about it. And I was thinking about it as I walking around.
I saw this quote by MLK that says, ‘Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope’. And what’s been happening is I’ve been recently saying things like the problem is not relevant and it triggers people cause they think that I’m saying the problem is not relevant in the client’s life. So thus being dismissive of the problem. But that’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m actually saying is the problem is not relevant to the accomplishment of a goal. Now, when you understand that, then you understand how important hope is in our work. Like what we are as clinicians, and specifically Solution Focused Brief Therapy clinicians is we are managers of clients hope. And when clients come to therapy, they typically come and they experience their hope as low.
And it’s my job to have a conversation with them wherein their hope would get higher and their hope would raise. And that’s a hard thing to do. But it starts with understanding that a client’s problem or their despair, or their challenge or their struggle is not relevant to their outcome. Now let me give you a quick story of what I mean when I say this.
My good buddy Adam, Dr. Adam Froerer, he has three kids. So there was a time where Adam’s wife was away and Adam was home sick with the three kids and they were young at the time. And like he’s got to feed them on those days. So on that day, does Adam wanna stay in bed because he is sick? Of course he does.
But he’s got to get up and accomplish the task of feeding his children. His illness is actually not relevant to whether or not he could do the task. Now, can he do it excitedly, enthusiastically, and with enjoyment? Probably not. But he’s got to do it. And that’s how we have to think about our client’s challenges and struggles. Like when the client comes into my office and I say,
“What are your best hopes for our talking?” And they say, “I’d like to be happy”. But the problem they experience is like grief and loss or trauma, whatever. It has nothing to do with the client’s ability to achieve the aim of being happy. And you’ve got to understand that. So I want you to really get that, that hope is there all of the time.
In fact, you can get hope from the despair and you’ve gotta understand the problem is irrelevant to the client’s ability to accomplish a change. That is primary. That is important. Don’t confuse that we’re dismissing the client problem. We’re detaching the client problem from their ability to achieve an aim.