The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

Unhelpful ideas.

At BRIEF we love people asking questions during our training courses and we do our very best to address the issues raised. Over the years we have responded to tens of thousands of questions (if not more) and many of them are asked over and over and over. And underpinning the questions is a set of ideas about therapy, about clients, about therapists and about the relationship between them. Here I have attempted to summarise the ideas that seem to underpin the questions asked
  1. Clients are unlikely to know what they want from therapy.
  2. Even if they do know what they want, what they want is not necessarily what they need.
  3. Some clients may not be ready for therapy.
  4. Some clients may not be stable enough to undergo therapy.
  5. Some clients are not the right sort of clients for therapy.
  6. Change is difficult.
  7. Clients do not want to change.
  8. Real change takes a long time.
  9. The tougher the problem the longer therapy needs to last.
  10. More therapy is better than less.
  11. If a client only comes to one session they must be a ‘drop-out’.
  12. Clients couldn’t answer ‘these’ questions.
  13. Clients need to offload and must be allowed time to do so.
  14. We need to build trust before therapy proper can begin.
  15. Clients cannot know when they are ready to stop therapy.
  16. Clients want to continue with therapy even when they should stop.
  17. Clients do not know, and should not be expected to know, what is ‘really’ going on.
  18. Clients are unlikely to know what is good for them.
  19. When clients are critical of the therapist this is a manifestation of their resistance to change.
  20. Since clients are reluctant to change they must be pinned down, setting out in detail what they will do between sessions.
  21. Therapy is not possible with people who . . . . (long list of categories of people which takes in neuro-diversity, personality disorder, children, unmotivated, lacking insight, inarticulate and more).
  22. Clients lie (more than the rest of us that is).
  23. All clients, whatever their status, require to be seen on weekly schedules.
  24. Clients need to acknowledge their problem – ‘I am an alcoholic’.
  25. What clients say to us should not be taken at face value.
The Solution Focused approach would not choose to accept any of these ideas, any of these assumptions about clients and it seems likely to me that each one of these ideas makes therapy more difficult, more complicated, harder to learn and longer. How is it that therapy has got itself into such a muddle and has adopted a set of taken-for-granted assumptions that make therapy so hard?
Evan George
1st May 2022 – 68th day of Vladimir Putin’s war on the people of Ukraine.


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