Hello and welcome to episode five of Don’t Forget with Anna Francis. I’m Anna Francis, the CEO of the SFU, and a registered counselor in New Zealand.
In this video series, I’m sharing all about my thoughts, ideas, and reminders about things we so often and easily forget when we are learning and practicing Solution Focused Brief Therapy.
In each segment I focus on one key thing that I hope helps you in your learning journey or keeping your Solution Focused Brief Therapy skills sharp.
For this episode, I wanted to focus on the reminder that the problem or problems that our clients bring to therapy are not relevant in relation to the structure of how we have Solution Focused conversations. And just to clarify, we of course need to tailor our language and tone to fit what our clients share with us, but the structure itself doesn’t change.
It’s really common when people are stuck in a session that they come to us for Solution Focused advice, and they need to give us the rundown on what the client’s issues are. I assume this information is to give context to why or where they’re getting stuck, but often the problems that the client is struggling with becomes the reason the therapist is getting stuck. The therapist has bought into the idea that the problems are of a higher value in the session than the value of the desired outcome.
This is a really easy trap to fall into because we are helping professionals, and we hear some truly terrible experiences and situations that our clients have somehow survived or are still experiencing. So it’s really important to remember that when we are thinking about problems, we’re also questioning whether the problems can be fixed. When we are thinking about problems, we’re also questioning whether our clients are capable of achieving the change that they want.
When we are thinking about problems, we’re also questioning our own ability to help solve them. When we are thinking of our problems, we’re also questioning the validity of the Solution Focused model as a solid standalone approach. These are things that all attribute to getting stuck in a session because we inadvertently get in our own heads and steer off in the wrong direction.
The problem is what has brought our clients to the therapy, but ‘what they hope will transform as a result of attending the therapy’ is where our attention and value needs to go. When we are thinking about their desired outcome, we’re also thinking about what resources the client possesses in order to achieve it. When we are thinking about the desired outcome, we’re also thinking about how capable our clients are of creating the change that they want.
When we are thinking about their desired outcome, we’re also thinking about what they’ll notice about themselves as they move towards the change that they want. And when we are thinking about their desired outcome, we’re also thinking about how trusting the process keeps us in our lane and in line with our role. These will eventually be things you don’t give any thought to. It’ll just become second nature.
Developing that Solution Focused mindset, and trust of yourself, your clients, and the process, is extremely important in building your skills and confidence.
Next time you catch yourself giving higher value to the issues your clients are struggling with, remind yourself to refocus on the desired outcome the client wants from coming to see you. And just ask the next question.
So I have a little two part challenge for you:
Part one. Next time you are stuck in a session or find yourself wobbling a bit in the session (for me, I get the sweats when I’ve gone off course), afterwards try and remember what you were thinking about at the time. Try and identify what it was that tripped you up. Did you buy into the problem for a moment? Did you find yourself imagining if this was a position you were in, how would you handle it? Did you remember some previous training or something you read that you think could help if you provided little psychoeducation? Identifying these sticky bits in the session can help inform you of a direction change for next time.
Part two. When you finished your sessions, reflect back on the parts of your session that you felt the most confident in, and what answers you heard from your clients that stood out the most. What were you thinking about in those moments? What questions did you ask? And what were you doing that kept you in your lane and in line with your role? Where was your mindset at, and what informed you in these moments that you put the highest value on your client’s desired outcome than on anything else?
I would love to hear your challenge outcomes in the comments below, if you are comfortable enough to share.
Thank you so much for joining me for this Solution Focused snippet, and I really hope that this reminder helps you as you continue to grow your skills and your confidence.
If you enjoyed this video, please like and share with your colleagues, and leave a comment, because I genuinely do love to interact with you.
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Until next time, keep being you.