The Apple and The Blue Chair

Posted by Elliott Connie - December 13, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

I’ve learned many different lessons that have impacted my Solution Focused work, from many different sources. Many of which have come in my travels, as was with the women with the apple in the blue chair that I came across in South Africa

So, as we wrap up 2019 I’ve just been thinking about,
like, the lessons that this year has taught me, and I’m currently in a place
called Kerala in India, and one of the things that I think all of this travel
and all these experiences and being in these other cultures and other
countries, and having access to this, like, people in environments I would
normally not be in, the lesson that I think I take away from it is the lesson
of being patient and how important being patient and disciplined is in your
Solution Focused practice. So let me explain a bit about what, I mean. You
know, being a very Western person, I was born in the United States and I was
raised in the United States, and to some degree have the audacity to think that
I grew up in a lower income area. I mean that might be true in relation to the
United States, but it’s definitely not true globally.

And I’ve been to many countries where the financial
situation is so destitute, so difficult that the background I had financially
would make me like a wealthy, like a King and all these other countries and one
of those countries is here in India. Now when I come to these countries, one of
the things I noticed it just jumps out and hits me in the face, is people are
able to deal with uncomfort in a way that I am not, I’m not conditioned to be
uncomfortable and to be patient and just deal with things. Like for example,
here in India it’s really warm, it’s really hot. And, when you get to a
building you might see people cued getting into the building and no one is
complaining about the heat. They’re just like waiting and being patient because
their conditioning has allowed them to develop that skill.

And I think, I think when I watch people practice Solution
Focused Brief Therapy, there are things that happen in the session that like
make you uncomfortable. The client’s silence or the client does not respond to
your question in a way that makes it easy to formulate the next question. The
client seems to be going away from the process. You can’t think of the next
question. And we find ourselves getting uncomfortable and we try to resolve
that uncomfort by doing something outside of the approach, giving advice,
trying to solve a problem, asking a problem focus question, but really what’s
really key in this approach is being patient and being calm and being
disciplined and being resolute in what you’re doing. I honestly can tell you,
I’ve not experienced anything like this other than when I go to these other
countries and I see the way people deal with uncomfort.

I’m going to tell you really quick story. I went to South
Africa and I was teaching on a thing called the Train of Hope. And I remember
arriving at the Train of Hope and they told me that, the Train of Hope was this
wonderful train that goes through South Africa and it allows people that live
in the very rural, rural areas of South Africa to have access to medical
treatment. And they’ve recently added Psychotherapist to this train, so I was
going on this train to train other Psychotherapists. So, I get there and they
tell me that people get a number when they arrive to the train and when their
number’s called, they get to go in and receive their services, whatever their
services might be. And if you get to the end of the day and your number’s not
been called, if you just wait until the following morning, then you’re the
first to go in.

But if you leave you have to leave your number and if you
come back the next day you get another number. Well that’s a big deal because
some of these people had to come a long way to get access to this train and
their health depends on them seeing a professional. So I remember I saw this
woman, an older woman, older South African woman, black woman, her number was
not called. So they told her that it’s, you know, it’s the end of the day. So,
and it was around like 8 o’clock I think that’s when they cut off, stopped
seeing people for 8 o’clock at night, and they told her you’ll be the first to
be seen tomorrow morning if you don’t leave the premises. And this woman walked
over and just took a seat. It was the Winter. It was cold. She grabbed an
apple, not sure where she got the apple from and she sat down in a seat,
crossed her arms and just sat in this like, this blue plastic chair.

I’ll never forget seeing it. And she sat in his blue
plastic chair and just waited and I watched her do it and I just thought, is
she really going to wait all night, overnight in the cold? In the environment?
In the elements? She didn’t complain about like, why couldn’t you take me? She
just sat, I go back to my nice warm comfy hotel room and I come back the first
thing the next morning and I see that woman getting up and walking in to
receive her services because she had sat there all night. And I asked like what
was her night like? And they said, she just sat. She didn’t have an iPad, she
didn’t have an iPhone, she didn’t have a digital thing to keep her company. The
only thing that kept her company was her ability to maintain and her ability to
be disciplined and focus on what she was trying to do as opposed to becoming

And as a result she got the healthcare that she needs. And
I remember watching that and you know, to be honest, I’ve had a thousand
experiences like that where I saw something that I’m going to take with me and
I bring it into the therapy room when I practice Solution Focused Brief
Therapy. So it’s just so important that we understand that it’s our job to stay
focused on the task at hand, and be patient, and be disciplined and understand
that some of this guys, we’re going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to be
awkward. It’s going to be, it’s going to be new to us, it’s going to feel
weird. But the client may need us to go through that so that they can hear our
questions, come up with an answer and say something about themselves that may
ultimately change their lives. So that is one of the lessons that I’ve had, and
it’s certainly something that 2019 has brought into my life.

It’s something I’m experiencing here in Calicut, India.
And I hope that you will take this with you into your therapy room and
understand the therapy room is not a place for you to resolve your uncomfort.
It’s a place for you to provide questions that will help the client achieve
healing. And sometimes it’s just hard work. So thank you so much for watching
this video. I really appreciate it. If you’re watching my YouTube channel,
please subscribe. Hit the bell below so you get notifications when I post new
content. Head on over to Like and share on social media.
I super appreciate it. Fist bump.