Evoking Client Solutions and Competence

The idea is not to convince clients that they have solutions and competence, but to ask questions and gather information in a way that convinces you and highlights for them that they do.

  1. Ask clients to detail times when they haven’t experienced their problems when they expected they would.
  • Exceptions to the rule of the problem
  • Interruptions to the pattern
  • Contexts in which the problem would not occur (e.g. work, in a restaurant, etc.)
  1. Find out what happens as the problem ends or starts to end
  • What is the first sign the client can tell the problem is going away or subsiding?
  • What has the person,s friends/family/co-workers, etc. noticed when the problem has subsided or started to subside?
  • What will the person be doing when their problem has ended or subsided different from what he or she is doing when the problem is happening or present?
  • Is there anything the person or significant others have noticed that helps the problem subside more quickly?
  1. Find evidence of choice in regard to the problem
  • Determine variations in the person,s reactions or handling of the problem when it arises. Are there times when he or she is less dominated by it or have a different/better reaction to it or way of handling it than at other times?
  • Have the person teach you about moments of choice within the problem pattern.
  • Resurrect or highlight alternate identity stories that don,t fit with the view that the person is the problem
  • Find out from the person (or from his or her intimates) about times when the person has acted in a way that pleasantly surprised them and didn,t generally fit with the view that the person is the problem.
  • Get the person (or intimates) to trace back some evidence from the past that would explain how or why the person has been able to act in a way that doesn,t fit with the problem identity.
  1. Search for other contexts of competence
  • Find out about areas in the person,s life that he or she feels good about, including hobbies, areas of specialized knowledge or well-developed skills, and what other people would say are the person,s best points.
  • Find out about times when the person or someone he or she knows has faced a similar problem and resolved it in a way that he or she liked.
  1. Ask why the problem isn,t worse
  • Compared to the worst possible state people or this person could get in, how do they explain that it isn,t that severe? This normalizes and gets things in perspective.
  • Compare this situation to the worst incident and find out if it is less severe. Then track why or how.
  1. Get clients to teach you how to do what they do when things work
  • Could they teach you or someone else how to do what works?
  • Play other people in the situation and get them to coach you on how to act in a way that would produce better responses.

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