SFBT When The Parents Want the Child to Change

Posted by Elliott Connie - September 20, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

One the trickiest situations professionals experience using the Solution Focused Approach is when parents ask us to “fix” their child but they themselves are playing a big role in the problem. In this video I share how SFBT can be used in these types of scenarios.

I feel like, uh, these days, all I do is take long haul
driving trips and, uh, flights different places. And today I’m driving to
Houston, Texas. I’m going to go to the Russian consulate, uh, to get a visa for
an upcoming teaching trip to Russia, shout out to Moscow. I can’t wait to get
there. Um, but as I was driving just doing this long drive, if you guys ever
been like driving and um, you’re so deep in thought, you don’t even notice it.
Like the radio’s not on it. You’re not on the phone, you’re just trying to
drive and thinking. Well, that’s what I was doing today. I was thinking about,
um, doing solution focused brief therapy with, uh, with a couple of scenarios
that have come up from my office in the past week or so. Um, that I think people
find tricky. And I was just thinking my way through.

Like, how do I handle these scenarios and, and, and how
could I help it be less tricky for others? Because the scenario is so how many
of you have ever been in a situation where, um, there was like a family brought
a child, like a teenager to your office because they were complaining about the
teenager. They thought the teenager behavior was inappropriate, uh, terrible
getting bad, all that kind of stuff. And they want you the professional to fix the
teenager. But after listening to their family, observing the dynamics and
seeing the way that the teenagers being parented and the teenagers being
interacted with, communicated with, it becomes quickly apparent to you that
it’s not just the teenager needs to change. It’s the family system. And even
sometimes the parents that needs to change the way they interact with that
teenager. But you can’t, like you can’t say that.

I mean it’s, you can’t, you can’t tell people that you
need to handle the teenager differently because it’s just so critical and comes
from a place of entitlement and all those sorts of things. Like it’s just not a
good way to conduct those things. So, so using the solution focused approach,
how do you do that? So the other day I was working with a family who was a
teenage boy, mom and dad, and the teenage boy was doing pretty well for all
intense purposes in life, getting good grades in school. Um, had a very bright
future in high school but was really unhappy and really depressed and had a bit
of a temper. The parents would say that when we asked him to do something, he
gets really, really upset and lashes out. So, um, in talking to the teenager,
the teenager really strongly believed that parents were quite critical of him
and the parents never praise him and he feels like the parents judge him.

And uh, it makes it difficult for him to interact. So when
I asked, so what would you like to be different? The teenager says, and I’m
meeting with a teenager, the parents in the lobby and the teenager says, I’d
like for everybody to notice that I’m trying really hard and I do really well.
And I think that really helped change my mood. And I wouldn’t be so depressed
with it. I’m not depressed when I’m out of the house in the house because
that’s when all the negativity is in my life. So suppose you woke up tomorrow
with whether your parents changed or didn’t change. What’s the first you
noticed that let you know that you could be the version of yourself that you
like to be wheter your parents are chaing or not and the kiddo starts
describing teenager starts describing how you know he would be, he find a way
to be happy.

Um, you would find a way to be happy, whether or not as
parent for engaging in this type of activity or not. You would find a way to smile.
He would interact with them from a positive place even if they were being
negative was really cool to idea physical description because you realized that
he was giving them too much power over his mood. So later on when I talked to
the parents, they said in essence, like did you, did you fix him? How’d it go?
And I mean, these are really good parents by the way. They want what’s good for
their child. But they really did seem to be a pattern of criticism and
negativity around this kid so I can understand where he was coming from. So I
said, you know, we had a really good conversation. We had a really good chat.
Um, but you know, he wants your help a little bit.

So can you guys notice the positive changes that take
place in his life after this conversation? And um, let him know that you see
it. So any positive change, sorry, it’s a little noisy. It’s a main road out
here. Um, this is a huge like truck stop kind of place here in TX called
Bucees. So can you guys let him know that you see it? Any positive changes in
regardless how small can you let him know that you see it? And uh, this morning
when I woke up to take this drive, the teenager sent me an email thanking me
for whatever it was I said to his parents, cause everything gets shifted and
made a huge different for him. And that’s probably what actually had me
Thinking about it. Because we always think like in order to impact someone, we
have to have the session with that person. Like so in order to change the
parents’ parenting style, the parents have to be in a therapy session.

And that’s not actually true. I literally talked to the
parents for like three minutes at the end of the session where I simply asked,
he needs your help. He’s gonna be trying (uh,. Here comes a really loud truck
making a ton of noise). Hello Texas, home of a lot of trucks. There you go.
Okay. So I literally talked to these parents like three minutes where I simply
said, he needs your help, can be making some changes. Do you guys notice the
changes you see him making regardless of how small and let him know that you
see them? And that really kind of flipped everything and that changed
everything in this kid’s life. So, so just realize that you can do solution
focused work and impact all of the people in the Kiddos in the, in the family
system. It doesn’t really matter whether they participate in the session or

So I hope that story helped and shed some light on how do
you do this approach and scenarios that typically, um, most people find tricky.
So always remember, you are always one question away from making a difference
in someone’s life. Please like this video, share this video, subscribe to my
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and free things you can sign up for. And as usual I will see you in the next
video. I got to get back on the road and head down to Houston fist bump.