Frequently Asked Questions about Solution-Focused Brief Therapy and the role of the therapist.
Can you help me?
I can help you to help yourself. Sometimes people enter therapy believing that I have some magic cure-all which will make their problems miraculously disappear, but it does require work on your part – change can be worthwhile, but it isn’t always easy. I facilitate this process by listening to what you tell me you want to change and exploring with you how you wish to make this happen. I don’t sit there like a wall and just listen – we collaborate together on finding solutions that fit with your individual life. It is potentially a creative and surprising process and sometimes working on just one part of the problem will free up the other issues. This applies both to one person, a couple or a family.
How long will my therapy take?
This really depends on your issues, and the pace at which you wish to work on them. Solution-focused therapy aims to be brief, so you don’t have to pay out for therapy which drags on for years. Often a few sessions – occasionally only one – are enough for clients to find their way forward and experience positive difference in their lives. They can then take a break and later revisit if they need to. In my experience the average number of sessions is about 8 although it can be longer. We constantly review progress so that you’re able to assess how things are progressing. This allows you to decide whether or not you need or wish to continue.
Should I see a male or female counsellor?
Whichever makes you feel comfortable. Actually, it shouldn’t matter whether they are male or female, or to which race, culture, religion or political party they belong. An important guideline is that the therapist is well trained and open about the way in which they intend to work with you. This allows you to make a decision on whether or not therapy, or a particular therapist, is right for you. Therapists should not be judgemental, nor should they allow their own beliefs and views to influence the way you want to resolve your unique issues. It is your therapy, not theirs!
What if my partner is reluctant to attend therapy?
This is often the case. Sometimes its possible to persuade your partner to give it a try – they may be pleasantly surprised or at least they are able to say they tried. Alternatively, their way of seeking solutions may be different from your own. However if they come to therapy and remain resentful and reluctant to work on things it can make solutions and change more difficult, although not impossible. In my experience the reluctance seldom remains. Therapy doesn’t work for those setting out to change a partner, relative or child. It’s about changing yourself first – your way of doing or seeing things and then, more often than not, like a domino effect this causes changes in others and the situation.
Why solution-focused therapy?
There is no doubt that we are the sum of all our experiences, good and bad, past and present. Solution-focused therapy doesn’t disregard the past, however its focus is on finding solutions to minimizing the influence past problems and traumas are having on your life, not just talking endlessly about them while they continue to impact the present. By focusing only on the problems and by disregarding the strengths and ways you are already dealing with your difficulties (although you may be unaware that you are already doing this) you can become bogged down or victim to problems past and present. Understanding the past and other influences on your behaviours is useful but it is not enough to affect change in your life; it is more effective to use that knowledge to solve the problem and move forward.
What if I find the therapy is not for me?
You do not have to continue the therapy if you feel it is not benefitting you – it’s your therapy. There are many different therapies out there and I am happy to discuss these with you if you feel you wish to try something else. Nonetheless, it’s worth considering that sometimes during the search for solutions there may be sticky patches, which can feel frustrating and where you may feel you’re not making much progress. Sometime too you may decide you’re not quite ready to make the changes or find the solutions your particular problems require. In such instances, it may be helpful to discuss this with me in deciding whether you want to continue a bit longer, take a break, or simply find other paths more helpful to you.
What appointment times can you offer?
I work online and so am able to offer flexible appointment times: day, some evenings and Saturday morning appointments. As you may already have experienced, online working is a highly effective and convenient way of working in many areas of life, it works very well for counselling too be it couple, individual or family therapy.