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The Magic of Solution Focus


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"Question!" by Stefan Baudy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I was first exposed to the magic of SF when my husband and I attended a conference headlined by Insoo Kim Berg herself! Even though we knew little of the mode of therapy she and husband Steve de Shazer had come up with, we felt it would be an honor to sit at the feet of any founder. The conference was amazing; we left filled to the brim with SF theories, phrases and ideas. About the same time we reached home, our 6th grade daughter came back from school and announced in a frustrated tone that she had completely forgotten about a math test earlier in the day. Usually, if she were to have said such a thing, my husband would have given her a reprimand for being so forgetful. However, after having his brain pleasantly refreshed with SF thinking all week, my husband said, “That’s okay, sweetie. Suppose you don’t forget next time – what might you do differently?” or something to that effect. Our daughter’s face lit up immediately! With a big smile, she said she would make a note of the next test in her diary. We all high-fived, my husband said, “You’re very clever!” and there were no hurt feelings, rejection, put-downs or drama. (Our daughter truly changed in her time management and is now a therapist herself raising a toddler!)

During a Q&A session after a lecture by Brian Cade, (author of A Brief Guide to Brief Therapy, with Bill O’Hanlon, published in 1993), one of my fellow participants asked Brian if the class could get help with particularly difficult cases. When it was my turn, I said something along the lines of, “Why is it that I can feel like a reasonably competent therapist with my clients but when I go home and speak with my husband, I say the completely wrong thing?” Cade’s reply was humbling, “Well, congratulations, you’re human.” And while I have never managed to find a way around it, I have on rare occasions remembered to ask my spouse, “Oops, suppose I could have said that differently – and I wish I had! How would YOU wish I could have said it?” The magic of SF!

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