A Personal Reflection and Future Projection

This article was written by Conrad Kinard for his unit 4 assignment of the Certificate course

I have often thought about what brought me into a room with strangers to learn Solution Focused Brief Therapy. I came with several preconceived notions but no real understanding of the SFBT application. My goals were to receive basic training in counselling so that I might return to Berlin and work there. It was through a program in Berlin that I found the SFBT course in Birmingham. I believe that it is synchronicity that has brought me into contact with this counselling concept and it is exactly what I was looking for. In the next couple of pages I will reflect how my involvement in training for Solution Focused Brief Therapy has affected me personally and my intentions professionally.

A Personal Discovery
Certifying in Solution Focused Brief Therapy is probably best described as a life change for the better. My original intent was to learn a structure of therapy that I might apply to a project in aid of people dealing with the psychiatric system in western countries that I have lived in. Learning the therapeutic concept and how to apply it has taken me on a personal journey that I had not originally expected. The positive impact that I know it can have on clients is because of the positive changes it has brought about in me personally. What I have learned is a deeper expression of the ideas from the ‘post-post-modern’ world in which we live. For me Semiotics was an intellectualised distancing of reality. I was only by accident familiar with Foucault at all. Yet, in the study of SFBT for this certification all my diverse information from the arts and the corporate jobs began to gel. Learning this approach has clarified my personal life and clarified my overall goals. I am excited about the possibilities inherent in Solution Focused Therapy techniques. This was unexpected.

In comparison with two popular contemporary counselling approaches, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Neurolinguistic Programming, SFBT stands out. Simplicity, lack of dogma, and that it is specifically client led, are the points that set it apart from all the others. The collaborative effort between counsellor and client begins immediately upon the first session, and works ‘in time’, improvisationally. Technique and basic structural tools are there to be relied on to provide flexibility to experiment. This allows for individualisation of the therapy for each client. The client comes knowing what they need when they arrive at a session. It is the job of the counsellor to help the client clarify these needs and possibly create a plan of action. Something that I have yet to perceive with other approaches to such a degree.

Language is the key
Think positively! Look at each day as a gift! Don’t worry, be happy! These patronising phrases leave the receiver, usually one that is having a difficult time, with the guilt of not being able to ‘just do it!’ or as it might be said ,’Get on with it!’ Get on with what? Stranded forever in a land of language based imperatives to fix one’s self, the road map is horribly obscured. These imperatives simply abandon one on the shore of ‘ what next?’ In SFBT, the ‘way forward’ is in the language, to realise the role of language as a wiring tool for brain function has altered my approach to life. If words can truly cause damage then it stands to reason that they can permanently heal as well. While working with other students in mock sessions, I found that the benefit was quite profound for me. In a short time the Solution Focused thinking infiltrated my day to day life.

It is clear that the approach is much like injecting a virus through language that ‘‘festers’’, replicates in concept and eventually transforms the basic inner discourse of the person. Where we as counsellors and clients may focus on one problem, it is the approach that begins to guide further thinking by the client. In the end, when the therapy is right, the client should not need counselling anymore. The strong point is that SFBT does not expect to create dependency (transference), as might be the case in Freudian-derived psychiatric models. Independence is the goal from the outset. Essentially this method is to move the client from problem focused thinking to solution focused thinking. This is achieved through repositioning the client in relation to one problem.

As the original motivation to learn this therapy was to work with those on psychiatric drugs, SSRI drugs of any type, and to educate the public as to the choices and the effects that these drugs present, I am presently looking into ways of setting up a grass roots system, based in concept on the 12 step programs in that it will offer personal support in a non-expert environment. I have observed that the psychiatric community tends to abandon people on these drugs and supply misinformation or at least one sided information to the client. These clients are victims, often debilitated by the drug itself, lacking in self-confidence to question the system and simply resigned to a diagnosis. They remain victims until they are empowered by information. The discourse of the dominant allopathic system intimidates the individual to remain on drugs that may be past the point of being effective and are most certainly damaging to their health in the long run. If the psychiatric community desires as a whole to remain in denial about the dark side of these drugs, it is up to the users to arm themselves with enough information to make informed decisions about their future involvement. SFBT can help to shift or reposition this discourse in the individual and in the group.
I have begun to set up a way for such people where they can informally meet and exchange information. Part of this is project is the website, www.strandedinneverland.com. where information can be disseminated. A radio channel can be developed and where videos and books can be aggregated for people to get a wide array of information from all sides of this issue through an SFBT philosophy. As it is only in beta, little is on the site as of yet.

Solutions Focused Therapy is an effective, open planned approach to therapy. It is client led and language centred. For my goal to set up a grass roots non-expert support community, this approach is very useful. I have only the beginnings of how to create this network. It will rely on people experienced with psychiatric drugs helping those that need support, with a backup of SFBT philosophy, I intend as well to develop a practice outside of this group. My goals brought me to the method but I will not create a counselling stable out of this group. Through Solutions focused counselling I hope to reach others that are also in need of a fresh approach to old problems.

23 January 2015


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