It’s Not What You Want, It’s What You Want To Achieve

Posted by Elliott Connie - February 29, 2020 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

This past week I found myself in a very challenging clinical scenario, one that would have stumped me for sure in my early days as a Solution Focused clinician. In this video I show you how I handled it so you won’t get stumped either. (as usual, details of e story were changed to protect the client’s privacy).


So earlier this week I had one of those, like, really challenging situations come up in a therapy session. The type of situation that people email me and ask me about all of the time. And it was like this unbelievably hard session. And I want to show you how I worked with it. And I want you to know, like you can really use Solution Focused Brief Therapy to deal with challenging situations, just like you can in the other session. So let me tell you what happened.

So this was a couple that I was seeing and the couple had come to me by the suggestion of one of their friends. And the reason the couple came to me because the woman wanted to be in the relationship. She wanted the relation to work. And the partner was like, I want it over like, I’m I’m done. I want this to be over. He wasn’t even like saying he kind of wanted to stay. He was saying, like I want it to be done. I want it to be over.

And so first thing I want to point out is solution Focus Brief Therapy is not about what the couple wants. It’s about what the couple wants to achieve. So let me tell you what I mean by that. So ask this couple, “What are your best hope for our talking?”, and the woman says, “I want to save our relationship. I want to resume our relationship. I want our relationship to go forward.” And so remember Solution Focused Brief Therapy is not about what you want, it’s about what would you want to achieve?

So if I simply talked about what she wants, which is the relationship to work, then that’s very counter to what the husband wants,

what the partner wants. And I know that. So I said, “So if the relationship were to resume,

what difference would it make to you?” It’s a way to shift from what you want, what what you want to achieve.

And she said, “I would be happy and I would I would feel better.” So what she actually wants to achieve is happiness and feeling better.

“So if we had a conversation that helped you be happy and feel better, would you be pleased?” And she said “Yes”.

Turn the husband, “So what are your best hopes from our talking?” And the husband said, “I just want her to accept that it’s over and

I think I’m ready to move on.” And I said, “Move on to what?” And he said, “Um,

I just want to live a different kind of life. And if you live the type of different kind of life,

that’s right for you, What difference would that make to you?” Again it shifts from what you want,

what you want to achieve by asking these difference questions. So I said, “What difference would that make to you to live the type of life you’re hoping to achieve?”

And he said I would have joy and I just want to be fulfilled and I just haven’t felt joy and fulfilled in a long time.”

So what he wants to achieve is joy and fulfillment. And then that little interaction that probably in the actual conversation took about five minutes, shifts the conversation from a debate on what do we want, to stay together or not, to what we want to achieve. Happiness and fulfillment

and joy. “So suppose you guys woke up tomorrow, and I mean, who knows? Maybe you decide to stay together.

Maybe you don’t. But ma’am, you have the type of happiness that you’ve always been looking for. And,

sir, you have the type of joy you’ve always wanted. But it didn’t wait for you guys to make this decision.

It didn’t wait for you guys to split up. It didn’t wait for one of you to move out.

It didn’t wait for you to file for divorce. It happened immediately tomorrow. This feeling just came upon you right now.

What would you notice?” And we spent the rest of the session doing a description of what they would notice happening in their relationship right now.

Now, the reason I’m sharing this with you is towards the end of the therapy session. Um, the husband was crying,

the husband was in tears and that triggered the wife to cry. And it was at a time in the conversation where it was odd thing.

Like, I didn’t expect you guys to be crying. So I asked is everything OK? And the husband said,

“I haven’t felt hope for this relationship in a really long time.” So the wife cries, and I asked if she was okay,

and she said “yes. I haven’t heard him say anything like that before”. And she reached and grabbed his hand and he held her hand,

picked up and kissed it, and he said, Um, “Is it normal to feel like this? After one session?”

And I said, “It’s normal for you guys”. And all we did was make a description on the presence of joy and happiness,

while not waiting for divorce to happen, because people get ourselves in our mindset like I can’t have the thing I want until I do this thing.

But the truth is, you can have joy at any point. In fact, that’s the greatest thing about joy, you could

like, carry it with you, and you can have happiness and all those things. So, um,

I said, “Do you think another session would be helpful?” And he said, “Yeah, can we come back in a week?” and then again,

still super emotional, still crying, And he then tells me that they have seen throughout their, about the last year of their relationship.

They’ve seen three therapists, and he said “All the therapists asked us about was about the problem, and it just made us feel worse.

It made me feel like we had so many problems that the relationship couldn’t be solved.” He said, “This is the first time I’ve actually felt like there’s hope here.

And I hope you know what you do, is you give people hope.” So I want you guys to really,

really get that. Like, even when you’re in a hard situation. Hope is the thing that’ll bail you through.

So never give up. Never lose hope, never lose faith and never stop asking questions because you were always just one question away from making a difference in a client’s life.

So look, follow me on Instagram @Elliottspeaks.com, and I’m gonna test my my video person, my video person named Helen.

She’s amazing. Helen, right here above me put @Elliottspeaks. That’s where you’ll find me on Twitter,

Instagram, Facebook and like, share this video, man. I want everybody to know the power of hope,

and I will see you in the next video. Fist bump!

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