How to Shift Your Focus
Now I have often said that being a psychotherapist is a privilege. Like it’s amazing that I get to work with these people. I get to play a role in people’s lives turning around and hopefully getting better in spite of whatever challenges may be facing them. And one of the reasons I believe that is because oftentimes I feel like I learn and I get more from these sessions than my clients do because they fill me with so much inspiration and hope.
And today I saw a young person. I saw a young boy who is really, really struggling with the isolation associated with the pandemic. This young boy has been working, doing his school work from home this entire school year, and just misses social interaction like, so much that it’s causing his parents to feel like he is depressed and going downhill.
His academic performance is going downhill. And as I talked to him, the young man was just like letting me know, and I’ll call him John. John was just letting me know, like, guys I’m just not happy. He’s 15, by the way, I’m just not happy. This has been a real struggle. And John has been impacted by what he sees in the news,
not feeling like there’s an end date to this insight. And he is just really struggling and downtrodden. And I asked him, so whenever this pandemic ends, how do you hope to come out on the other side? And we spent the rest of the session with him describing to me who he wants to be on the other side of this pandemic, whenever that might be.
And it was such a joyous conversation, it was such a remarkable conversation to watch John like, transformed right in front of my eyes as he was answering questions about who he wants to be on the other side of this pandemic, as opposed to who the pandemic has forced him to become. Like, to see the shift, see the difference. He’s describing to me as who he wants to be on the inside of the pandemic and not so much about like who he is today as a consequence of the pandemic.
Like, this is the magic of Solution Focused Brief Therapy is because you have to go through a bit of a transformation to answer these kinds of questions. So this young guy, man, he’s telling me about who he wants to be in the other side of the pandemic. He’s saying I want to be in better shape than he was when it started.
He’s saying he wants to have a better relationship with his parent. He wants to get along better with his siblings. Like he’s telling me all these things and what difference it would make in his life to achieve these things. By the end of the conversation, this young man is like in tears, thanking me for helping him focus on the part of this that he can control.
Which is who he is through the pandemic and what he does during the pandemic. And not so much focusing on the pandemic itself. And I started to well up and break down in tears because that’s what this approach is about. It’s helping clients shift their focus onto the version of themselves that they want to be because they have control over that. So when you start thinking about like, what is Solution Focused Brief Therapy about, it’s about helping clients describe who they want to be because that’s what they have control over regardless of the external circumstances.
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