The Expert Position Scares Me…

Posted by Elliott Connie - May 26, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

There have been many recent stories in the news lately reminding me that the expert position can be dangerous, even harmful. This video is about why that matters and why the Solution Focused Approach does it differently.

Recent news has has reminded me why I fell in love with
solution focused brief therapy and why I still love solution focused brief
therapy and why I still practice solution focused brief therapy with the
enthusiasm and passion that I do. But in order to understand that, I want to
take you back to the very beginning of my career because you know way back then
like what got me into this field and what really got me enthused was I wanted
to be a really good and effective therapists and I was working in a place and
being educated in an environment where problem focused types of therapy, where
the dominant ways of doing this work, most predominantly cognitive behavioral
therapy, CBT and I got trained to do CBT and I worked really hard to be the very
best cognitive behavioral therapist I could be. I wanted to learn how to do a
really good assessment that would target and helped me understand the client
problems and the symptoms helped me be really good at diagnosing so that I
could develop an intervention that would make a difference in the client’s

The reason I thought that way is because I was working in
that environment and people were telling me that the type of therapy you needed
to do with CBT, because CBT is one that research says is effective. So I bought
into that and I tried as hard as I could to be the best cognitive behavioral
therapist I can be. But then I learned an incredibly valuable lesson from my
clients. What I learned was no matter how hard I worked, no matter how hard I tried
to understand my client experience and develop an intervention that we make a
difference for them. I just couldn’t, I couldn’t understand what it’s like to
be that person with that problem. I also learned that no matter how much I
tried to develop an intervention to make a difference in my clients’ life, that
people didn’t always respond well to being told what to do and it led to me
having a bunch of problems getting stuck in therapy.

And I’m sure if you watch this video of some of this might
sound familiar to you, but back then I would do therapy with like know family
or a couple and using CBT. And I would say so after sitting with you and
talking to you, here’s what I think you should do. And the family would say,
Oh, we’ve already tried that. It won’t work. Or, um, I don’t think we’re going
to be able to do that for these reasons. So we had all these barriers. I
remember going to my supervision meetings and my supervisor would tell me, you
have to talk about objections to barriers to help them overcome those barriers.
And it was all about trying to get clients to comply. And then I met solution
focused brief therapy and I learned about this process that invited the clients
to tell me what they wanted.

And then it’s my job to ask them questions to help them
achieve that. So it’s my job to involve them in the process, in fact, to be led
by them and the process. And then all of those things went away. You know, I
used to be so frustrated when I was doing card behavioral therapy because I
would, I would tell these kinds of, do these things that I thought were really
good ideas and make a difference in their life. And they’d come back for a
followup session and they tell me, I forgot what we were supposed to talk, what
we were supposed to do, or I can’t remember what the assignment was. And then I
switched to involving people in the process. And there was this amazing thing
that happened because all of those things went away. And I realized that like
people don’t want to be told what to want to do.

They want to be involved in the process. In fact, they
want to lead the process. So recently when I was watching the news and I saw a
story where 25 men made a legal decision on what women can do with their
bodies, and there was this huge uproar in the news and on social media and
people like, you know, I’m on Facebook and I’m seeing people I’m friends with
that don’t understand why there’s so much rage. And I just want to say because
women didn’t have a seat at that table, like 25 men made a decision on what
women could do with their bodies and then there was no woman involved in that
law being passed. And it makes me realize like, wow, this solution focus stuff
is so important and probably has ramifications far beyond the therapy realm,
but I’m not sure that people really understand how important representation is
and I and in representations in a dignified way where we need to let people
lead the conversation that are relevant to the conversation.

Instead of us trying to understand their process and
develop an intervention that will make a difference in their lives. I think
society would be better served if we were operating with that premise. And I
think, I think maybe asking people what are your best hopes from this thing is
a much more important questions just doing it in therapy. So, um, I hope that
somebody would watch this video and just take this lesson away. That if you
want to make a difference in the world, you want to make a difference for
people. We have to be led by the people that are relevant to the problem with
the led by the people that are relevant to the topic and not try to not try to
fix things for them because people don’t want to be fixed. Uh, they want to be,
they want to be leaders. Um, so I hope that as a society we can do better than
that. And I hope that, um, you guys watching this will understand that asking
about the desired outcome is so important that we need to understand the
process far beyond therapy cause involving people is how change actually
happens. So thank you for watching this video, really sensitive topic, but I
really appreciate you took the time to watch it. Please like this video, share
it if you, if you are so kind and I’ll see you in the next video.