This week I started my Master of Counselling at uni. (side note: It is wonderful. I love it. I’m so glad I decided to start studying. I can’t wait to be counselling people!)
We are focusing on something called Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, which is quite a different model to the kinds of therapy I am used to using (ACT, CBT). And I love my ACT and CBT. It’s hard to break out of that mindset into SFBT (so many acronyms!), because SFBT is all about using people’s strengths, capacities, ideas and abilities. It is the ultimate in non-enabling. It is extremely respectful of people’s individual knowledge about their situation and lives. Basically it says, “You are the expert on your life.” And I agree, I think that’s true.
The counsellor’s role is not to know nothing and just listen (although they do stay present, listen and empathise, which is a whole skill in itself!) but to know and ask the right questions that lead the client to their preferred course of action.
In learning about this, I have come to realise that people are amazing. They are incredibly resilient, resourceful and strong. Even in some of the most dire situations, they get up, they look after their families, they complete studies, they go to work…And sometimes they wake up and keep on living, even when they feel they can’t. That takes such enormous courage.
I watched a case study where a man who had been in an accident and become a paraplegic came to an SFBT session very depressed, feeling terrible and with very little hope for change, but he decided of his own volition to come back to a second session a month later, and had implemented some changes he had come up with all on his own. His problems weren’t all solved and he was still depressed/grieving, but his suffering was not as overwhelming anymore. He looked happier and healthier. He had more energy. He even smiled a little. I was soooo impressed.
From this therapy I am learning to look for strengths, possibilites and capabilities in people. I think that’s really beneficial for all of us. It’s given me a real admiration for others, and even helped me to see that I have done far more than I thought I was capable of. It gives me a lot of hope.
How have you managed to get through a difficult time? What resources, capabilities, strengths did you draw on that maybe you didn’t even know you had?