You Have to Acknowledge and Take On Your Client’s Answers

Posted by Elliott Connie - December 20, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

Having a Solution Focused conversation is difficult and hard to master. This video I’ll share a key idea that lets you know when you’re headed towards mastery, and use an example to make the point. Enjoy!

In the past few weeks, I’ve been all over the world.
Really. I’ve been in England. I’ve been in India. I’ve been in multiple States
here in the U S and teaching people at various levels of their learning in
Solution Focus Group Therapy and one kind of thing keeps coming up as I talk to
people. And we’re having a lot of conversations about like this idea of mastery
and mastering the Solution Focused approach and something came up that I
thought would be a really cool thing to make a video about and something came
up I want to share with you. So one of the ways you know, you have mastery over
a skill, any skills, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, making pancakes, flying a
drone, a sword fighting, literally, athletics, literally anything is when you
start to master the subtleties of the skill. So let me give you an example of
something that happened.

I was watching someone kind of new to the approach, new to
Solution Focused Brief Therapy, start to apply it in their work and they asked
the client a question, “What are your best hopes from our talking?”,
to start off this session. Now, that’s the most common way that we start off a
session. And very often the client does not answer that question. So, you might
say, “What are your best hopes from our talking?”, but the client has
a tendency to respond to another question, as if you asked another question.
For example, “What do you best hopes from our talking?” We’re clearly
asking, what do you hope to achieve from the work? But people, sometimes answer
as if I asked what brought you into therapy? So, “What are you best hope
for my talking?”, “I’m very depressed”, right! That’s a very
common response you get from a client.

“What are your best hopes from our talking?”,
and they give you a statement about their problem because they experienced that
that is what you’re asking. So our job is to ask the question again, right? So,
“What your best hopes from our talking?” “I’m very
depressed.” And we have to figure out a way to ask the outcome question
again. Now, one of the things that I noticed was when people are new to this
approach, they experience the client as answering the question wrong. And then
they go about asking the question over again in a way that kind of disregards
the questions, or the client’s response. So it goes like this. So, “What
are you best hopes from our talking?” “I’m very depressed.” And
then the person will say, “So what are your best hopes from our
talking?” See what I’m saying? So they don’t, they don’t accept, acknowledge
and take on the client response.

They just ask another question almost as if the client has
not responded at all or responded wrongly. And the greatest thing that you can
do is take on your client’s words. It’s so crucially important. It communicates
respect, value. You are listening. So what I want to suggest you do is when you
ask client a question and they answer, well, first of all, when you ask a
client a question, I want you to get to a point when you’re not expecting or
anticipating any answer in particularly, your job is just to use whatever
answer the client gives you. So if I say, “What are your best hopes from
our talking?”, and the client says, “I’m very depressed.” I’m
going to acknowledge that they said that I’m going to take it on and I’m going
to say, I’m going to say something that could communicate that I heard them.

“Oh wow. That must be very, very tough to be very
depressed. So if chatting with me was somehow useful to you, what would you
like to notice different?” Do you see how I took the content of the response
and I turned it into a question continuing the pursuit of an outcome. If you
don’t do that, it seems as though you were disregarding and discounting what
the client said and then they get the experience that they’re answering the
questions wrong. And it’s really hard to connect. It’s really hard for them to
feel valued and respected. And it’s really hard to feel honored. And think
about that. That’s super duper normal, right? Like if I invite you to my home
for dinner, right? Anybody watching this video. If I invite you to my home for
dinner and I say, I’m going to make my famous lasagna, which I actually am
famous for making lasagna, I’m going to make my famous lasagna.

And if you call me before that meal and you say,
“Hey, I’d love to have your lasagna, but is there any meat in it because
I’m a vegetarian?” If I say, “Yeah, yeah, I put, I put sausage and
beef in it, it’s really good.” And you said, “Hey, I’m a vegetarian.
I can’t eat it.” If you show up at my house, and I say, “Oh, I just
disregarded that and I made the meat lasagna anyway”, you wouldn’t feel
respected. You wouldn’t feel valued. You wouldn’t feel connected with me and
you probably wouldn’t want to have any more visits to my home. Well, the same
thing is true in a Solution Focused conversation. We have to take on the
clients responses. We cannot, we have to train ourselves so well that we don’t
experience the client as giving a wrong answer. I mean admittedly, some answers
are easier to turn and hook to a question than others, but you’ve got to train
yourself so well that any client response is a useful response because you’re
going to be capable of acknowledging and taking on what the client said and
then turning it into a question that will further accomplish the task you’re
doing in the therapy session.

So master the nuances. That’s how you know you master
skill. Thank you for watching this video. Please like share, subscribe, comment
below. I’d love to hear you guys’s thoughts and subscribe to my YouTube channel
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next time, fist bump.