The Best Way to Know If Your Solution Focused Questions Are Working

Posted by Elliott Connie - July 21, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I started posting my weekly blog videos, but here we are at the 150th such video. In this video I address what is perhaps the holy grail of Solution Focused work; how to know if true questions are working.

if I’ve gotten it once, I’ve gotten it 10 million times,
people email me literally daily with a question that starts with how do you use
solution focused?Brief therapy went, dot, and I understand like I’m
not criticizing those people. I’m not, I’m not making fun or poke holes. I
actually understand it. It’s like an essence. How do we know that solution
focused? Brief therapy is working with a multitude of these problems in a
multitude of the things that come into our practices. So I want to, I want to
address that really, really directly like solution focused. Brief therapy is
working when the client is answering questions in a, in kind of a boat, a weird
way when we’re doing the sessions, it’s really not even our business to do anything
about wondering whether or not the client, whether the session is working,
cause that’s actually the client’s domain.

That’s the client’s job. It is my job to ask questions
that involve the detailed desired outcome. Being present in the client’s description
and asking as many questions I can that manifest that into reality. And then
whatever happens next is my client’s responsibility. This is true whether
you’re working with couples, whether you’re working with someone who has
survived as significant trauma, whether you’re working with someone who’s
dealing with postpartum depression, whether they’re working with someone who is
a child, whether you’re working with a group, are they working with a family?
Like good job is to help the client articulate and identify their desired
outcome and then ask them as many questions as possible about the inclusion of
the desired outcome in their detailed normal life. Like, so let me give you an
example of what I mean. I’ve got a referral a few weeks ago from a mom of a
young girl, little eight year old girl or girl or so.

And the mother was convinced that this daughter would not
talk to me. The mother said that she’s been to therapists before. She does not
talk or respond to the therapist questions. And um, she heard good things about
me. So I just wanted to see if you would bring them. So good question.
Questions like, so how do you work with a young girl who doesn’t talk or how do
you do family therapy? Do you do this with just the parents? I invited them all
to come and mom sat there, a little girl sat between mom and dad. Dad Sat there
and I did what I did. I asked, what are your best hopes from our talking? And
it was my job to ask that young girl, even though it was very clear to me, she
did not want to participate in this session. It was very clear to me that she
didn’t, she was not excited for just making the session, but that’s my job.

So I asked what the rest of my talking and she just stared
there and mom tried to answer for her and I said, mom, no, no, thank you. I
need to ask your daughter. So I asked again, so what are you best? So from
we’re talking and the little girl didn’t say anything. And then dad tried to
answer program and I said, Dad, no thank you. You got to let me do my best and
talk to your daughter. So asked again, what are you best known for talking? And
the daughter just stared there and I said, I understand you’ve seen therapists
before. Did you find any of them helpful? We’ll go shook her head. And I said,
so if I can be helpful to you in any way possible with the outcome you’d like
to see in your life, and she kind of murmured to not be in trouble anymore.

Well instead of being in trouble, what would you rather
consider yourself in? And like, if in trouble doesn’t work for you, what would
you rather be in? And she kind of mumbled, I’d like to be happy and my parents
to be happy with me and now we have an outcome we can start going on with the
session. So just understand that every time in your head you start thinking how
to solution focused brief therapy. Work, dot. My job stops with my
ability to ask desired outcome questions and then to ask the client to describe
a life when that desired outcome is present. Everything after that is my
client’s job. This comes up a lot with couples. When people kind of think like
the therapist’s job is to keep the couple together, but that’s not true. When
people come to my office and they’re in a relationship, I’m not trying to save
the relationship.

I’m trying to ask them desired outcome questions so where
they can do a description of the presence of desire and outcome and the client
sought out whether or not this is the relationship they want to be in or not.
Now I’ve had couples come back to my office literally in tears thanking me for
saving their marriage x number of years in the past, but I’ve also had a
couple, I’m thinking of one in particularly that came to my office years later
with their teenage son to thank me for not forcing the be together. It turns
out divorcing and finding happy relationships was the best thing they ever did.
So understand it’s so important that we understand our role is to ask about the
desired outcome and then somehow engage the client into description of that
desired outcome and stop wondering so much about how to solution focus group
therapy works because that’s not really our business, that’s our client’s

So I hope that this addresses this question. I hope that
that kind of makes sense. Leave a comment below. Let me know what you think
about this. Cause this is kind of a big deal. Like this is like in my opinion,
this is almost like the holy grail of solution focused therapy. So leave a
comment below, let me know what you think. Hit that light button, hit that bell
is you’re on my youtube channel. Head on over to for all the
free videos and trainings and things I got going on and I’ll see you in the
next video. And never, ever forget that you are always just one question away
for making a difference in your client’s life. Later.