The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

Try it yourself

Prof. Andrew Derrington writing in the Financial Times Weekend (3-4 April 1999 & 29-30 January 2000) compared solution focused brief therapy with other therapies and said:

". . . in choosing a therapy I would steer clear of experts who professed to be able to analyse my problem. It's not that I don't care what the problem is. It's more that I don't think they would know any better than I. And anyway, it's more important to identify the solution than to understand the problem.

The therapy that takes exactly this view is solution focused brief therapy. It helps clients to find solutions to their problem by using two questions. The first is called the miracle question.

Imagine you were to wake up tomorrow and a miracle had happened during the night: your problem had disappeared. What would be different about the way you feel?" The second question, known as the scaling question, is simpler. It asks clients to put a number on how they feel where 0 is the worst [it could possibly be] and 10 is the way they would feel the morning after the miracle.

The sequel to the scaling question is to ask clients to imagine what they may be able to do to move themselves half a point up the happiness scale. Whenever I have a dose of the glums I ask myself this question. The thing that amazes me, and convinces me that I shall never need therapy, is that I always know the answer. Try it yourself. You will put your therapist out of business."

It might not be quite as simple as Andrew Derrington suggests but it's worth a try so here are some questions that might be worth asking yourself (or, better still, get a friend to ask you.)

  1. Imagine a miracle sorted out your problem. What ten differences might you notice about yourself the next morning. And ten differences your partner (if you have one) would notice, ten differences your best friend would notice, ten differences your closest work colleague would notice, ten differences your boss would notice and even ten differences your dog would notice. It is important that the answers describe what you would be doing rather than what you wouldn't so if you hear yourself answer with "I wouldn't feel so down" you would have to ask "So what would you feel instead?"
  2. On a scale where 10 is the day after the miracle and 0 is the total opposite, the worst it could possibly be, where are you now and where would you need to get to to feel this is not perfect but sufficiently okay. Then find fifteen things that are preventing you going lower or helping you stay up. Now write down ten good qualities those who know you best would say you possess. Finally, imagine you have moved just one point up the scale and think of three things each of the people featuring in your 'miracle day' would notice different.
  3. Think of one quality that you have that you would like to take with you into the future and keep a look out for its appearances.

For a copy of Andrew Derrington's articles and others from many other national newspapers email us at: solutions@brieftherapy.org.uk.

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