I just got the chance to read a brief story in Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s latest book Switch regarding the technique of solutions focused therapy. They looked into a troubled student named Bobby who seemed to be shuffling in and out of foster homes, in ninth grade and struggling to stay out of trouble in school. After using solutions focused therapy with a counselor, his rate of principal visits for discipline issues declined 80%.
Instead of looking at the problems, the counselor would ask questions of when Bobby could remember times he didn’t get in trouble at school as much. From there they would both explore what was happening in those times of the day, which particular teachers he liked and what specific actions those adults were taking to make Bobby feel comfortable and welcome to participate appropriately.
From there, the counselor passed this information on to other teachers in the school system so they could mirror this for the rest of his school day. Some of the tips were as easy as greeting Bobby at the door as he entered the classroom to making sure Bobby understood the directions of a given assignment after the class began working on it.
I think this is an aspect worth exploring within my family, especially with my youngest daughter. If we can get some specific, vivid memories she’s had where she’s felt special, important, happy and welcome in the family environment, we can then work on mirroring this on a regular basis so we can build back that bank of lost self-esteem and self-confidence.
I feel it’s come back with my oldest daughter, now that she has a therapy mentor to talk to about various issues as well as animal therapy. She began tracking her verbal and temper tantrum outbursts within a journal, so that she’ll be able to process better with her mentor in a week to week fashion.
With my family, we are consistently having to reformat and retool how we approach the needs to come to a workable solution. We have four different and distinct personalities and family backgrounds coming together as one. A lot of what we learn we have to see for ourselves, because accounts written in years past may not have exactly happened as they appeared on the papers. We are aware that as they grew closer to us, many of the past negative events could come from the recesses of their minds straight into the forefront.
So if you feel like you are personally at a standstill with tackling issues from your past, take the time to close your eyes and visualize some of the better moments of your day and your life. Remember how you felt, remember the people around you, remember the environment, remember what made everything so special and pleasant. If you need a friend to remind you of a great moment or two, pick up the phone and call them or see if you can arrange a get together in person.
The subtitle of Switch is ‘How to Change Things When Change is Hard’. I know change is an aspect of life I struggle with everyday- but I’ve been learning more with my daughters that you can change, you can grow, and you will still thrive and survive.
My vacation is almost at an end. I feel much less tense about where life is going for myself and my family, and things can only look upward and forward from here.