Hello and welcome to 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 gonna be sharing with you my ideas, thoughts, and tips around things we so often and easily forget when we are learning and practicing Solution Focused Brief Therapy.
In each segment I’ll be focusing on one key thing that I hope helps you while you’re on your learning journey, or keeping your SFBT skills sharp.
Now, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference in learning and practicing Solution Focused Brief Therapy, between genders (in a very broad generalized context of course), and are there outside influences that can contribute to how we learn and use this approach? And what, if any, present as more of a challenge for us women?
I’m working on something much bigger that covers a whole lot more, but there is something for this Don’t Forget video series that I wanted to share to serve as a reminder.
I have joined Elliot on hundreds of webinars and live online events and managed thousands of emails, so I see all of the comments and questions, and what I notice is the volume of women commenting about experiencing imposter syndrome, and symptoms of burnout.
So I did a little armchair research just to confirm my thinking, and I was able to confirm that overall women in helping professions experience higher rates of burnout, which I’m sure is no surprise.
We as women really do give ourselves a hard time, and not to say men don’t also, but we have a few extra obstacles in comparison to our male counterparts, and I think it’s time to highlight them and take a moment to give ourselves permission to be kinder to ourselves, and open ourselves up to the possibilities of what we have done and can achieve, which I think will help lead to a greater belief in ourselves, beating the imposter syndrome, and moving towards using the Solution Focused Approach with greater confidence and skill.
Now, in order to become really proficient using this approach, you need to be disciplined. Disciplined in your belief and trust in three things, (1) the Solution Focused Brief Therapy process, (2) our client’s ability to create the change or transformation they want, and (3) in ourselves as clinicians. We often struggle and get stuck when any one or more of those things wobble, causing us to fall back on our other modalities, and then feeling bad about ourselves and our abilities because we didn’t stay Solution Focused.
For me, the biggest struggle was believing and trusting myself. Trusting I could use this approach well enough to serve my clients successfully. And this was a cause for a lot of my imposter syndrome that I’ve worked really hard to overcome. This got me thinking about and asking myself, “Why did I have imposter syndrome, and what things contributed to it?”, and I realized that a lot of it boiled down to simply being a woman.
Of course, I can’t speak for all women, but for me, I’m super maternal by nature, and I grew up with a dream of being a stay-at-home mom, having a ton of babies that I could snuggle and smooch all day long. Now, I had three sons and scored a wonderful stepdaughter whom all fell victim to my maternal overload. What I wasn’t aware of and didn’t realize until much later was the loss of identity that happened for me, and many women when they move into the parent role.
For me, it didn’t really happen until after my youngest son was born with a severe brain injury. So if you’ve watched my first Don’t Forget video, you’ll have heard me share a little bit about my story there. But if this is our first time meeting, my youngest son, Alex, didn’t receive proper maternity care and was starved of oxygen around the time of birth, which resulted in profound disabilities. He’s now 18 years old, but he has the physical and intellectual function of a baby. He’s unable to eat. He’s legally blind. He has no physical abilities. So as you can imagine, the care he requires is intense and relentless. So my entire existence became lost in providing him care and trying to keep him alive and comfortable.
I remember a few times trying to take some time out, and every single time Alex would be sick (throw up) all over whoever was trying to help him, and I’d have to come straight home. So I pretty much gave up and then became incredibly isolated. It wasn’t until a few years later when I was able to get a little help, and there were opportunities to attend social events, that I realized I’d completely lost myself.
What could I possibly offer as any kind of conversation? No one wants to hear about how exhausted I was, how many nappies I’d changed, how many times I’d cleaned up vomit, how long I’d spent doing physio stretches, or how many times in one day I was tortured with Barney and Friends, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on repeat.
I felt like I had absolutely nothing of value to offer, and it was a really lonely time, and had a very lasting impact. And I know this is experienced by other mothers, many who had not envisaged becoming a mom, or not planning on being a stay-at-home mom, or mum who also had to go to work so their days were so packed with work and managing their family, they also got lost. Now, I’m sure this is also experienced for at-home dads too. So this isn’t entirely unique.
How I think this relates to how we learn and use SFBT is around confidence. We often train at a later age, or stop working for large chunks of time to raise our families, and then return, our hormones have us going in all directions of sanity all of the time, and that has a profound impact on how we feel about ourselves. And we don’t often attribute how we are feeling about ourselves to how we learn and do the work.
When we’re overwhelmed with family responsibilities, hormonal changes, social and cultural expectations, our brain capacity can become diminished. But we seem to think it’s because there’s something wrong with us and our abilities. But let’s turn that around for a minute. Imagine we were our own Solution Focused client, and our best hopes would overcome imposter syndrome, to reduce our feelings of burnout, and to feel confident, a deep sense of internal pride in ourselves and our work, and a true self-belief. What would we begin to notice about ourselves, and what signs of change would we see? What would we discover or remember about ourselves and the history of this outcome that would lead us to being amazed about ourselves with everything that would overcome and achieved?
What internal resources, characteristics, traits, and skills can you list that you drew upon, and still draw upon? Now that you’ve got yourself right here to this point, while managing all of that, and the forever changing hormone monster, don’t forget to give yourself permission to own all of that. That all belongs to you. They’re facts. So take it. I did. I took all of it, and once I realized I’d be getting in my own way, it really was a game changer.
So I challenge you to really give this some thought, to really take a look at yourself as someone’s Solution Focused client. What would you be most pleased to see? I would love to hear about it if you’d be comfortable enough to share it in the comments.
You know, I love to interact with you all. So 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 confidence.
If you enjoyed this video, please like leave a comment and share with your colleagues, and don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel, so that you get notifications for our other amazing videos all about using Solution Focused Brief Therapy in your work.
So until next time, keep being you.