What To Do When The Client Is Focused On The Problem

Posted by Elliott Connie - November 23, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

In the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of teaching and one question that comes up a lot is how to handle situations when the client is so focused on the problem that answering SFBT questions is too hard for them. I’ve had that question so much that I’ve been thinking a lot about how to respond. This video is how I want everyone to respond when you find yourself working with someone who is in this situation.

So, Hey, I am, uh, on my road home from Tahlequah,
Oklahoma on my way back to where I live in the Dallas Fort worth area of Texas.
And, uh, I was thinking about some things that I’ve been doing recently, so
I’ve been teaching a lot. We had about 1500 people sign up for my video
training series SFBT 2020, and then I had an online course that I was teaching,
uh, just today. And a lot of people are asking like, how do you use Solution
Focused Brief Therapy when the client is like, stuck in the problem and they’re
so stuck in ensconced in the problem that they can’t see anything else than the
problem. And I think this is such a common, common, thing. I was driving and do
you ever like, get so deep in your own thoughts that you just forget to like
turn on the radio or do anything else entertaining. You’re just like so deep in
your thoughts.

And I was thinking about this because so many people were
asking this question and I just thought, how do I explain, how do I explain how
to respond in that way? And I know when people ask these questions, they’re
typically asking like, what question can I use to help the client get unstuck?
But I actually want to suggest to you that it’s not a question. It’s an
attitude. I want you to be more stubborn in your belief that there is always
hope, than the problem is stubborn in your client’s life, right? So, let me
repeat that. I want you to be more stubborn in your belief that there’s always
hope, than the client’s problem is stubborn in their life. Because it’s not,
there’s no question you ask to like, there is no like, get the client unstuck
question, but you have to be determined in your belief.

Now, if you’ve been following for a while, you’ve heard me
say that I have had some of the best Solution Focused trainers in the world,
Linda Metcalf and Chris Iverson and Harvey Ratner, Evan George, and all of
these people that i’ve spent a ton of time with. But honestly, I’m not kidding.
The very best teachers I’ve ever had have been my clients, because what they
did was they demonstrated change to me and caused me to believe that there is
always, always, always hope. So when the client is in my office and they’re
just like so stuck in the problem that they can’t see beyond it, I’m not
thinking of like what question can I ask to get them unstuck? But I’m just
holding onto my resolute belief that there is always hope, and what gives me
that as a realistic belief is because I’ve seen so many clients get better when
circumstances and the environment would make it look like there was no chance
they had to get better.

I’ve seen people grow and evolve when you just didn’t
think there was any shot that they could grow and evolve. So I want you to just
like, understand this, there is no question that is going to help your client
not focus on the problem. In fact, that’s not even our goal. I just want to
keep asking questions and the client can come up with an answer that is more
connected to hope for their desired outcome, than it is for fear and despair
due to their problem. And that does require me to be determined and really
stubborn in my belief in the client’s ability to create change regardless of
how long, profound, or significant the problem has been in the client’s life.
So I want you to think about that for a moment. There is no questions that you
asked to get the client unstuck or unfocused on the problem.

There’s an attitude and a stubbornness you have to have
moving towards hope. And I was thinking about that as I was driving. I am 100%
confident that I’m going to make it home and that’s just my job. Like I’m going
to make it home short of an accident that literally ends my life. I’m going to
make it home. And um, the reason that I believe that is because home is my
destination. Now, there might be some barriers along the way that I have to go
around. There might be some challenges on the way that I have to overcome, but
like I’m going to get home like that, that’s my job. And I have a really dogged
determination and a real stubbornness to believe that I’m eventually going to
make it home. And I want you to have that same attitude of belief that if you
ask about times in the client’s life when they did have hope, and if you ask
about times in their life when their desired outcome was a little bit there,
that eventually the client’s going to answer the question or they’re just going
to walk out of the session, which in 15 years I’ve only had happened once, and
even that person called me later and scheduled another appointment.

So don’t worry about that part. You just keep doing your
job and that job requires you to be stubborn in your belief that there is
always hope for change, even when the client is so stuck in the problem they
can’t just see it. It’s my job to keep asking questions until they do. And that
is, that’s not a specific question that gets him on stuck. That’s your attitude
of belief. So I hope this video helped. Uh, I’m going to get back on the road
and, um, I said I want to get home, I want to get home before it’s too late, so
I’m going to head off and get back on the road. So please help me spread this
message. Share this on your social media pages. Give me a like, give me a
share. If you’re watching this on YouTube, subscribe to my channel. Click the
little bell so you get notifications when I post more video content. Um, leave
a comment below because I would love to hear what your thoughts are. Like my
favorite thing is interacting with the people that follow me. And until next
time I will see you in the next video.