When You and Your Client Are Stuck In A Loop

Posted by Elliott Connie - November 1, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

When you are using the Solution Focused Approach, especially when you’re first starting out, you can get into a loop where you ask the same question and get the response from your client over and over again. The question came up of how to handle this in a course I’m teaching and it inspired this video where I share 2 suggestions about how to handle these scenarios.


Yesterday, um, during one of my, uh, online coaching calls
for a course that I do with, uh, my colleagues, Chris Iveson, Evan George, and,
uh, Adam Froerer, I was, um, a discussion came up that was really interesting.
So somebody asked the question, “What do you do, and how do you avoid
those like, those kind of loops that you can’t escape when you’re practicing
solution focused brief therapy?”. And, and a lot of people have
experienced this loop, right? So it’s like, “what would you notice if you
woke up?” “Well, I’d be smiling” “What difference would
that make?” “Um, we’ll I’d be happier?” “And what
difference would that make?”I’d be smiling” “What different
would that make?” “I’d be happier.” So you kind of get the same
answer from the client, which leads to the same question, which leads to the
same answer, so how do you get out of that loop?

So it was such a rich description. Uh, I wanted to share
two things that I’ve been thinking about. Now I’m traveling, I’m back in
another airport. I’m in a, in a lounge, some airport or whatever, but um, I’ve
been thinking about it. Uh, and I wanted to share two things. First thing is,
um, one of the best ways, and this came up in the discussion, I believe, uh,
Evan was the one who pointed it out, as one of the best ways to get out of that
loop is to get more specific in the details you’re asking about. Cause the more
specificity that you ask about, the less likely you are to generate the same
response, right? So if someone says, “I’d be happy”, you can say
something like, “so what would be different about this smile on this day
when your desired outcome became your reality?”

So it’s not just a general question about like, “so
what difference would happiness make””, if you get the same answer
you can say, “Yeah, yeah, I know, yeah, you’d be smiling, but what would
be different about this smile if you, if you saw this smile in the mirror and
we’re paying really, really close attention, what really small, subtle
differences would you notice about this particular smile on this particular
day?” So you see how you take the broad idea of just a smile and you
really narrow it to a much more specific idea that would be taking place on
this day, in this moment, in this present moment. And you do that. And in doing
that, uh, increases the opportunity to get a different answer from your client.
The second point I would like to make, and I didn’t even say this in the
discussion, this is what came up when I was flying this morning and uh, made me
want to highlight it in a video here, is when you have a scenario where you are
asking clients repetitive questions and they’re having a hard time coming up
with answers, I think you should continue asking questions.

I think you should continue asking the repetitive
questions because the client will continue to think during the session and
beyond. And it’s the thinking about your question that leads towards change. I
cannot tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with clients and they
said, “You know, I was thinking about that question you asked me. Uh, and
like three days after the session, I was still thinking about it and I came up
with an answer that made a difference in my life.” So it’s important that
we, um, understand that it is our job to ask the next question in the sequence
and do the very best job we can in doing that. But the client gets to come up
with an answer and if it’s the same answer, it’s the same answer. Uh, but that
doesn’t mean that they’re not experiencing change. So, I guess in essence, I’m
saying, if you find yourself in one of those loops, you should not assume that
helpfulness is not happening.

Now, hopefully the first thing I said, will, will help you
get out of that loop if need be, because it is uncomfortable and it is awkward
and it is something that you want to avoid. Uh, but if you can’t escape the
loop, I still want you to remember your job is still to ask the next question.
And there’s nothing that says that, uh, just because they’re stuck in a
question cause they have a hard time answering it, they’re not benefiting from
the therapy. So with that, I gotta go, um, pack up all my stuff and get on the
next flight. I’m on my way to Canada where I’m doing my annual couples
intensive and I’m super excited about doing that. Uh, but in the meantime, I’d
love to hear your thoughts and comments about this video. So please leave a
comment below, share this video on all your platforms. I’d really appreciate it
and give me a like, Go on over to my YouTube channel, if that’s not where you
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www.elliottconnie.com where I’m constantly posting new material, new
announcements, new stuff that you’re going to want to enjoy and I will see you
in the next video.

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