The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

Normal difficulty

It is, of course, easier to develop a solution to a "normal difficulty" than it is to develop a solution to a "very pathological problem that has roots deep in my infancy".

- Steve de Shazer

Putting Difference to Work (page 66)

Here de Shazer reminds us that problems are not found, they are constructed and the way that we co-construct the problem with the client will inevitably affect the likelihood of resolution. Making the problem bigger, which is of course easy to do often merely by exploring the client’s ‘problem-history’, is likely to slow down the change process and to reduce the client’s expectation of change.

When clients ask me why their problem happens I tend to respond truthfully, saying that it is difficult to know but that very often we get ourselves stuck in patterns of behaviour that originally had some usefulness but which have ended up outliving that usefulness. ‘Getting stuck’ in a pattern offers a way of explaining problems that is unlikely to exacerbate the difficulty. After all ‘getting stuck’ is normal, we can all get stuck, and ‘getting stuck’ is minimally critical (or blaming perhaps) of the client. ‘Problems’ that are positively connoted, framed as ‘originally of use’, often seem to be easier to leave behind., and clients who are not invited to criticise themselves, often seem to find it easier to move on from them.