Just Stick With It

Posted by Elliott Connie - January 11, 2020 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

People ask me all of the time about mastering the Solution Focused Approach and how they can do so in their work. I know they think there is some magic secret that will unlock their skills once they discover it. The truth is much simpler, and in this video one of the best Solution Focused clinicians shares exactly what is needed (and it’s so simple it’ll surprise you)

Elliott:              Okay, so I’ve talked to you guys
forever and ever and ever about the art of asking questions and asking Solution
Focused Brief Therapy questions being a skill and a craft and things you have
to get better at. And kind of what started me on that journey is meeting a man
named Chris Iveson early on in my learning about Solution Focused Brief
Therapy. It’s been important for me because it helped me understand Solution
Focused Brief Therapy beyond just as a theory, but moving towards like a craft
and a skill and something that needed to build my skill set I had to get better
at doing. And that was a significant shift in my work. So I thought it’d be
really cool to have Chris join me and help me to explain what he thinks are the
important things and what he thinks you need to do to be able to get really
good at asking Solution Focused questions in your sessions that are more likely
to help the client create change and move their lives towards a desired
outcome. So Chris, explain to people what it is that you think helps people
master this art of asking questions?

Chris:                Sticking at it would be probably
the biggest thing because when you’re starting out, you don’t feel very
confident. And when things don’t work, you are prone to giving up. So I was going
to give up, ooh, probably in my seventh or eighth week of learning this with my
two colleagues, Evan George and Harvey Ratner. We taught ourselves how to do it
mainly from Steve de Shazers book ‘Clues’. And at that time, like in the 1980s,
we worked largely through exceptions, exploring exceptions. And I found myself
working with an agoraphobic woman who there seemed to be no exceptions to her
problem, and I was going to give up but Harvey and Evan, said I couldn’t get up
and they made me see this woman again and, surprise, surprise, it worked very,
very dramatically. But I might’ve given up if it hadn’t been for my two

Chris:                So one thing is to stick at it,
don’t expect to be brilliant. The other thing is that back then, while I was
definitely not brilliant, but it still worked. It still worked as well as it
does now. I might be a little briefer now, a little smoother sometimes, but I’m
no better in terms of outcome. So sticking at it is crucial. The other thing
that Elliott would have just told you this, and told you this, and told you
this, and told you this, is you have to know or adopted the position, that
clients can get themselves out of the holes that they’re in. You have to
believe that clients can do it. You have to believe that somewhere within them
they have a way-with-all to take the next step in their life towards a better
future. Always talking about taking another, a different step, a slightly
different direction in life towards a better future.

Chris:                You have to believe that people
can do that and to develop that belief, you have to stop grubbing around in
people’s problems, because the more you talk about people’s problems, the more
hopeless you get and the more difficult the whole thing becomes. So just trust
that all clients have resources. And in some ways, the clients that you’re
going to do best with are the ones that are in the most difficulty because
they’re the ones that we’ve got the most to gain. So don’t be afraid of those
clients who have multiple problems. Seek them out. Do this stuff with them.
You’ll be amazed at the outcomes. Elliott what else? What else should I say?
What else do I know that I forgotten that you can remember?

Elliott:              You know Chris, I that’s it! So
there you have it. Who I consider to be the best person in the world doing
this. In fact, the best who’s ever done it. It’s a craft. It’s a skill. You
have to work at it. And the number one thing is to, don’t give up. And remember
that all of you who send me those emails and comments about like, how do you
use this with clients with these really big problems, like Chris would say
exactly what I would say, is sometimes those are the clients that have the most
significant shifts in this approach. So hang in there. Say ‘bye’ Chris. Bye!