The Serious Misconception About the Solution Focused Stance Toward Mental Illness

Posted by Elliott Connie - January 4, 2020 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

One of the common myths of the Solution Focused Approach is that professionals using this approach don’t believe in the existence of mental health diagnoses. Nothing could be further from the truth and in this video I explain it.

So I was teaching recently and somebody in the audience
asked me a question about how do you use Solution Focused Brief Therapy with a
client who’s struggling with something that is like a psychiatric issue, like
narcissism, psychosis, borderline personality disorder. And that’s a common
question. People ask that question all the time. And I think when you talk
about something as different as Solution Focused Brief Therapy, people hearing
the message, people hearing what you’re teaching automatically start thinking,
because it’s so different what are some areas where this wouldn’t work? Common
question happens all the time. So I’m responding to this question. Somebody in
the back of the room said, “Oh, Solution Focused people don’t believe in
diagnosis.” And I was, I thought for a second I thought, I mean that’s a
common misconception about the Solution Focused Approach that we don’t believe
in diagnosis.

Of course we believe in diagnosis. Diagnoses are real,
impact people’s lives, impact people’s loved ones in their lives. And I think
it’s a really slippery slope and a scary thing when we start promoting the idea
that diagnosis and psychiatric issues are real. Like I’ve been very upfront,
transparent and honest about the abuse that I experienced in my family growing
up. And I think it’s a really slippery slope, like, if we start going down the
road of like diagnosis is not real, then it’s really easy for like the Elliott
to start to think then maybe it was my fault that abuse was happening. Like it
was very clear to me that the perpetrator of that abuse struggles with
psychiatric issues. Those psychiatric issues and unresolved traumas went
untreated for a really long time. But it’s a really slippery slope to start
promoting the idea that diagnosis and psychiatric issues are not real.

I think what we have to be very, very clear about is that
understanding the psychiatric issues is not relevant to the process of change.
Right. So look, I’m going to say that one more time cause it’s really important.
So while we recognize that psychiatric issues are real, understanding and
resolving them are two completely different things. So like, I don’t have to
understand the root cause of the psychiatric issue in order for the client to
experience change. Like, I think it’s such a common misconception that we think
like Solution Focused Brief Therapy people don’t believe that diagnosis is real
and thus we think we can like be positive enough and if you’re positive enough
than anything is solvable. And that’s just not the reality of the way the
Solution Focused Brief Therapy approach works. I think what we’re really saying
is, regardless of the psychiatric issue, regardless of the symptomology
present, if you can focus on the outcome and have a conversation that features
a detailed description of the achievement of that outcome, then the client is
likely to experience change.

It doesn’t matter what the psychiatric issue is. So while
we acknowledge the psychiatric issue is real. We also acknowledge that the
power of the outcome and a conversation wherein you’re doing a description of
the presence of that outcome is much more powerful. And I’ve seen a lot of
lives impacted by this belief, not just professionally cause I’ve seen
professionals think, oh, so I got this client and my job is to like help them
be more positive and that’ll help. Or people who have someone in their lives
like I’ve had who have a psychiatric issues and you just think, well maybe if I
can just be more positive or I’m not allowed to notice problems, of course you
are, you’re absolutely allowed to notice these things. They’re there and
they’re real. But a Solution Focused conversations about the outcome and a
description that is about the achievement of that outcome.

So let’s not perpetrate that misconception anymore. Like,
let’s be really clear about this. While psychiatric issues are real, outcomes
are realer, right? While psychiatric issues, like, we acknowledged they’re real
and they’re prevalent and they’re there, you can absolutely make a change in
someone’s life just by focusing on an outcome and doing a description about the
achievement of that outcome. So thank you so much. I hope this video clear some
things up cause I hear this question all the time. And I know this is a common
misconception about Solution Focused Brief Therapy. If you liked this message,
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