Respond to two colleagues:
Identify a barrier that might make it difficult to implement the solution-focused model with the client described.
Discuss how a social worker could help a client re-focus on the present, rather than on their past. The two peers are below.
While working in the hospice setting, part of my responsibilities were to provide grief counseling to individual clients who had lost loved ones on service. I conducted three in-person sessions with a woman who had lost her father. She had lived with him and been his primary caregiver for 9 years prior to him passing, and she did not have any other close familial relationships in her life. She reached out for support toward the beginning of quarantine due to Covid-19, because she was feeling overwhelmed and isolated, and she “couldn’t stop crying.”
Using exception questions and coping questions would be beneficial in helping her to identify small changes she could make to help her feel more in control, and able to move through her grief (Turner, 2017). With the onset of quarantine, it was easy for all of us to feel overwhelmed and stuck, thinking that it would never end. She used a lot of exaggerated language, saying “I never stop crying,” or “I don’t have anybody to speak to,” and then contradicting those statements when she recounted the events of her week. I might have asked her: “I noticed that you aren’t crying right now. Is there something about this situation which is making your grief feel less intense? Are there other times during the day that you notice you are less tearful?” I may also ask about her coping strategies, as these would likely coincide with each other. One coping question I may ask would be: “What have you been doing to keep yourself grounded and connected to yourself and others during this isolating time?”
These questions are focused on very clear and observable behaviors, and lead to very clear and actionable solution steps. This client was fearful of the weight of her emotions, and that she was crying so often. She was fearful that it would never end, and she worried about being a burden to others if she cried while speaking to them, which drove her to isolate more, which exacerbated the emotions further. By bringing her attention simply to the moment in which we are speaking, and noticing that she is not crying right now, it allows her to take that moment to recognize it as fact and challenge the story she is telling herself that she is “crying all the time.” Whatever she identifies as being the difference in the moment which enables her to feel calm – whether that is being heard, expressing her emotions, or simply being in the presence of somebody else – can inform her answer to the coping question. Perhaps finding a friend to speak with over the phone would be helpful. Maybe simply writing in a journal and expressing her emotions without having to worry about “burdening” somebody would work. Encouraging her to identify what is true for herself, and decide on the next right steps to take allows her to take control and recognize her own strength and ability to move forward.
I love this method, as it puts so much faith in the client to decide what is right for them, by encouraging them to view their issues from a different perspective. It is a simple and hopeful approach, which likely helps them to feel empowered, capable of change, and able to clearly identify what they want. It allows them a reprieve from their problems, either by imagination, or by reflecting on times when they actually are experiencing reprieve already in their daily life. This is impactful, because it demonstrates to them how very possible this change is, that it already exists in small periods of their life, and that generates sustainability.
In my work as a family visitation support specialist, a father and his four children are completing supervised visits after an abusive incident occurred between the gather and his two eldest daughters. During our visits, the two eldest daughters often either refuse the visit, attempt to leave early, or provoke conflicts with father or with the younger siblings. The family is contemplating separate visitations with the eldest daughters in order to better address their needs and have more successful visits.
Miracle Question: In an ideal world, what would your relationship look like with Laura and Emmaline?
Exception Question: When do you and Laura/Emmaline seem to get along best?
Relationship Question: What do you think Laura/Emmaline would say about you wanting to do visits with them differently?
In solution-focused therapy, it is the provider’s job to elicit more thought on behalf of the client on strengths a client can use to solve a problem (Turner, 2017). The provider is not to take on a teaching role or solve the client’s problems alone, but to collaborate with the client in learning how his/her actions/beliefs can resolve the understanding of or the problems itself (Turner, 2017). The above questions would help in getting the father to picture a positive relationship with his eldest daughters, instead of staying stuck in his usual self-defeating and hopeless and sometimes resentful understanding. They would also help the father in understanding moments when things go well and how he can maintain these positive moments with his eldest daughters and consider their understanding in an accepting and nurturing way.
In this case, I would feel optimistic and patient with the father answering the questions. In my experience with him, he has presented himself as very insightful, understanding, and motivated to change or at least accept his role in the process of change. With that, I would feel confident that the father could come to a solid understanding of ways he can use his strengths to improve his relationship with his eldest daughters. I trust that he would also be able to present the option of isolated visits with his eldest daughters in a polite and meaningful manner. The father would most likely respond positively and insightfully to the above questions because, as I stated, he is fully vested and eager to improve his relationships with his family.
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