Archives for Solution-focused Therapy
I love this rusty old ring of keys. They’re originally from Germany, a land dotted with castles and drawbridges and ancient city walls. And maybe these old keys were made to unlock some of those places. To get through those barriers. To unleash the secret spaces within. But they certainly won’t open any door that stands before me now. For the locks have changed. (That seems pretty obvious. Slightly silly, even.) Yet, so often, it can seem almost ‘natural’ to try our old, trusty (rusty?) approaches on the new problems in our path. To automatically bring our pre-loved habits or the stuff that’s worked before to new situations. To bring our old keys to new locks… Have you caught yourself doing this sometimes? Trying to release yourself from a bind of some sort (emotional/relational/behavioural) by jamming the lock with your old keys, your old ways? Getting frustrated or angry or anxious when it just doesn’t work?
Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to facilitate an 'in conversation' event with Rev Dr Stephanie Dowrick, as we explored the idea of seeking the sacred in life, and what that might look like. On the way there, I spotted these words on a menu board in a restaurant garden: “Enjoy the Beauty Inside” I’m sure it meant the beauty inside the restaurant, but it seemed a really apt thing to see just before talking about the concept of sacredness… During that conversation, Stephanie lamented that therapy often required so much “work” and that it often seems so negatively framed. That therapy seems to need us to unravel our lives right back to the beginning and re-live all the painful bits. To dredge up the ugly past and stain the present with it somehow. And maybe this is true, sometimes. For in therapy’s earlier days, it started out as just such a thing. But, thankfully, it’s grown since then. Many therapies now also look to our future and ask us to imagine what we’d like to bring about there, and how we might do that...
Out here in Australia, Halloween is an inherited festival that’s only just starting to catch on. And though is still seems a slightly foreign ritual to me, there are also benefits in approaching things like this as an outsider. For sometimes you can see into things a little differently with fresh eyes… So maybe we can look at this tradition afresh together and find out what else Halloween might offer us (other than the tricks or treats). What meaning lies beneath it? And how can you perhaps draw some of that meaning back into your own life.
I caught a bit of a cold recently so I’ve been feeling a little unwell (and not attending to this blog as often as I’d like). This physical unwellness got me thinking about the nature of emotional ‘unwellness’, too – wondering what the signs and symptoms of that might be for each of us, and how it might impact us all in different ways. (And what kinds of things it might lead us to not attend to so well…). It’s funny that when sickness makes an appearance, we often remember what it is to be well, and yearn for it. And funny how quickly that same wellness can fade into the background when we have it back in our lives. How easy it is to overlook when it’s there. Similarly, sometimes therapy cops criticism for looking away from wellness, for looking more towards the past and picking the scabs of old wounds, as though pain is somehow worth more than pleasure. But it’s not necessarily so. For therapy can also be used to explore and strengthen the helpful, buoyant, restorative aspects of life – the resilience – the things that have gotten you through so far. The things that can sustain you. So I wonder if it’s worth actually taking a moment to really look at emotional wellness. What does wellness actually mean for you, in your life?
They say ‘time heals all wounds’. But does it? Or are there other things involved in the healing, too? If it is time that salves and soothes, how much time does it take to heal? (And how on earth might a thing like time-limited brief therapy work?) Perhaps it’s worth just investigating time for a moment. What’s your relationship with time like? Does it evaporate on you, too quickly gone? Are you in a kind of ‘pursuer-distancer’ relationship with it, where you’re always chasing it down, and it usually stays tantalisingly out of reach? Or does it pool at your feet and maroon you in a rising tide of excess? Is there so much of it that it’s hard to find ways to meaningfully fill it? Therapy itself is intimately twined with time. Measured in regular rhythms of sessions and the weeks between. Yet even here, time can play tricks. For in some sessions, the clock fairly races. In others, the ticking slows and seems to expand somehow, inviting a whole other dimension into the room. So how can we use this nebulous, changeable stuff therapeutically – both in therapy and in life? How can we harness time for our healing?
Directions. Sometimes there seems to be thousands of them: ‘right’ ones, ‘wrong’ ones, socially-sanctioned ones, ‘crazy’ ones, fabulous ones, fruitless ones, loop roads and dead ends. Other times, it seems there are only a few to pick from. Yet, even if there are only two options, you still have an important choice to make about the direction to take your life in. This excerpt from Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken captures this beautifully: …Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. (you can hear him read the entire poem here). So what about you? What might make all the difference to your life’s direction? When it comes to picking your path, how do you actually go about making that choice? Standing at the crossroads of any major decision, what helps you know which road might be the ‘right’ one for you?
Driving around the city the other day, I saw this stick figure being cornered in a doorway by a gang of question marks. It was an unfair match – the figure was outnumbered, and the questions were life-sized. They were headed-up by their favourite ringleader: ‘Why?’ What’s a person to do when surrounded like this?