The Magic of the Follow-Up Question
So yesterday I hosted a webinar and we had just about a thousand people sign up, 999 to be specific. And one of the things that stands out to me, like the more I teach this approach, the more I realize it is so much more than a collection of techniques. The more I show people how to use Solution Focused Brief Therapy the more obligated I feel to share that you have to understand something that goes way beyond just the techniques.
For example, you have to be committed to the process and to your clients when you’re doing this work. And yesterdays webinar was like a highlight as to why. Like, people were asking me like, ‘Elliott, I’ve tried the miracle question. I’ve tried asking for exceptions. And the client always seems to struggle to answer the questions.’
And I was like, you know what? That’s actually the point. When are you doing Solution Focused Brief Therapy well, you’re asking the client about things they haven’t thought of before, or you’re asking them to think in a deeper level about things in a way that they haven’t thought of before. So if I ask you a question that you’ve never heard before, the most likely response you’re going to get is something like, ‘I don’t know’.
So as a therapist we have to take that as, not that the client doesn’t know, and not that the client can’t answer. Cause we start thinking that the client doesn’t know or they can’t answer. Then we stop asking. We have to take that as a sign, not that they don’t know, not that they can’t answer, but that I’ve asked them a question that they’re struggling to find the answer to.
And the magic of Solution Focused Brief Therapy it’s not the question. It’s the followup questions you ask the client to help them construct their answer during the session. Because as the client constructs their answer, they’re also constructing their new reality.
And that’s what Solution Focused Brief Therapy is about, is helping the client build and construct the future they want to participate in. The future they want to live in in real time. Like that’s how this approach works. So you gotta be committed. You got to understand that change is on the other side of an ‘I don’t know’ answer. Change is on the other side of ‘I can’t think about it right now’ answer.
Cause sometimes a client say those things. They’ll say, ‘I can’t think about it’. I’m going to say, ‘and if you took just an extra bit of time to think now, what might you come up with?’ And then, then they give an answer. So it requires commitment. And the ability to not give up on your clients to be successful.
But what I want you guys to get from this particular video is to realize that when I do Solution Focused Therapy well, my client’s going to have a hard time answering the question, but I want you to get excited about that because that means they get to constructing their answer in your session, which is also them constructing their reality they want to live in going forward.
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