The Solution Focused Goldilocks Rule

Posted by Elliott Connie - November 8, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

Asking the kind of questions that consistently make a difference in the client’s life is quite challenging. In fact, I would argue it is the central challenge of this approach. I was recently introduced to something called “The Goldilocks Rule” and it immediately made me think of this approach and how it could be used to help with this task. That’s what this video is about.

So growing up, just like most kids, I wanted to be just
like my older brother and uh, just like my dad when I was young. And one of the
things my dad used to do in our like random moments of positive family time, is
my dad used to take us to this restaurant called Clark’s. And Clark’s was known
in Boston for having these really big burgers. Like they were huge, like big as
the plate. And um, we’d sit at the table and my dad would order and my older
brother would order, my little brother would order and I always ordered what my
older brother would order. And when my burger came, I would pick up the burger
and my little eight year old hands would moosh the burger into my face. I’d
take the biggest bite I could, and then I would put the burger down and it
would look like a little tiny squirrel bit it.

And I would get overwhelmed. Like, how am I going to eat
this burger? And my dad would see the look of overwhelming on my face. He would
reach over, cut the burger into eight pieces and I would immediately experience
a calming, like a relaxing, like, oh now I can eat it. Somehow as if cutting it
into eight pieces, reduced the quantity of the burger, then I’ll pick up each
eight and eat the burger. So recently this past week at my Solution Focused couples
intensive that I do, we were talking about the overwhelming feeling that
sometimes clients get when we ask them questions. And I heard about this really
cool thing called the ‘Goldilocks Rule’ and somebody wrote a book, I think the
person name was White, but somebody wrote a book about this thing that in the
book that’s called the ‘Goldilocks Rule’, which is, you’ve got to set a goal
that is, like, big enough to make you uncomfortable but small enough that you
think you can attain it.

And I was thinking about that and I’m just like, so in
Solution Focus, when I first learned this approach, we often talked about
client change. That’s why we use the scale, right? We always say zero to 10
suppose, and the client says they’re at five. And we say, “suppose you’re
at six, what would you notice da…da…da?” So they can follow this
Goldilocks Rule and they can envision themselves being at six. We wouldn’t say,
“Oh you’re at five, suppose you’re at nine da…da…”, because it’s
too big. It’s too overwhelming. It’s like trying to eat all the entire Clark’s
burger in one bite. But the thing that, that was a huge part of our discussion
one of the days of this intensive, is each question needs to be treated as
such, right? So if I say to somebody, “what are you best from our
talking?” And the client says, “I’d really like to be happy and it’s
been real hard being happy these days because my wife left me”, or
“my husband left me and I’ve lost my job and I don’t have any money.

I don’t know how to care for my family. I don’t know how
I’m going to keep my house and my car and all this stuff”. I wouldn’t say,
“well suppose you woke up happy, what would you notice?”, because I’m
breaking the Goldilocks Rule and I’ve made the question so overwhelming because
I’m so stuck in problem and saturation of problem that I can’t even think of
waking up happy. I’m going to have to say something like, “suppose you
woke up and in spite of all the challenges that have recently hit your life,
what would you notice that gives you an idea that happiness was beginning to
creep into your life”. Do you see how I shrunk the question but still
stuck to the, we’re going to keep moving our life from problems saturation to
uh, moving towards our desired outcome. So, so I guess what I want to say is
it’s not just about having small attainable goals as it relates to change, it’s
also about making sure that your questions challenge the client enough, but
also don’t cause your client to feel overwhelmed as if they can’t answer them.

And I think that’s such an importantly huge distinction.
So that means always at any point in the session, your client should experience
your questions as hard to answer because you’ve asked the challenging question,
but they should always find them attainable. So, always be prepared to follow
up your questions with more questions to help the client answer them, but
always make sure that they’re in the realm of reachability and clients can
attain them. So thank you so much. I hope that makes sense. It was a really big
part of our training this past week, and I hope in sharing this with you, it
makes a difference in your work. So as usual, please like this video, head on
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this approach is, and I’ll see you next time.