The Solution Focused Approach to Problem Solving

Posted by Elliott Connie - October 17, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

Since the Solution Focused conversation is not centered around the problem that brought the person into therapy, many wonder then how are problems solved. That’s why I made this video, to directly address this question.

This week I’ve been in Moscow, Russia, here in Moscow,
Russia, and uh, I’ve been teaching, uh, about using the solution focused
approach to multiple audiences and things. And a lot has been bouncing around
in my mind. And I think that the thing that has stood out to me the most during
this trip is the solution focused approach to solving problems. Now, just like
everywhere else, people keep asking me questions about like, how do you use
solution focused brief therapy to help a client who struggles with dot, dot,
dot, kind of a problem. And I thought about that, and I thought about that, and
it just like kept coming up, and it kept coming up, and it kept coming up. And
I realized that one of the things that makes us, like, have that question is we
are really, really trying to help people solve a problem.

And it dawned on me that like, solution focused approach
to solving problems has nothing to do with the problem, it has to do with the
person. So let me give you an example. Let me tell you what I mean, like, cause
I’m telling you, no solution focus therapists, no psychotherapist, has ever
solved the problem. Here’s what we do instead of solving problems. So growing
up in the house that I grew up in, my father was a very angry, aggressive,
abusive man. And my grandmother knew how mean and difficult my father was. So
what my grandmother tried to do for years during my childhood was tried to
intervene in the problem. My grandmother tried to tell my mother and my father
to be kinder, gentler, nicer to his children. Didn’t work. My father never
changed. So then my, uh, my grandmother changed her tactic and she started
complimenting me and building me up.

She started trying to make me know that I was a strong
person and I could get through anything. She gave me the nickname ‘Man’. And
one day I asked her, “why do you call me ‘Man’?” And she said,
“because I need you to be one”. So towards the end of my
grandmother’s life, I asked her how she knew to go about that. And she said,
after years of trying to help your father change and to ask your mother to help
your father change and it not working, I realized the only way I could help you
was to make you stronger so you could deal with your situation. Now when she
said that, like I burst into tears because to me that is the essence of
solution focused therapy. The client has the problem, whether it’s an addiction
or depression or whatever it is. I can’t change that. If a client comes into my
office because they have a difficult marriage,

it’s not that I do anything to the marriage per se, but
the conversation will impact the person so they can go do something to the
marriage. So I beg you, like, stop trying to solve the problem and start trying
to heal the person. Start trying to build a person up so that they can go off
and address the problem in a direct way that’ll truly make a difference in
their life. And I think if we understand that this is the direction that
solution focused problem solving takes, then we stopped trying to figure out
how to solve people problems and we start trying to figure out how to actually
be useful to people so that people can go make the difference in their own
lives. So please let me know if that makes sense. In the comments below, let me
know what you think. I love hearing from people. Send me emails, like, share,
subscribe. Head on over to my YouTube channel, if you’re not watching it there,
and hit the subscribe button, hit the little bell so you get a notification. Go
on over to and check out all this stuff I’ve got on my
website and I’ll see you in the next video.

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