Strength in Simplicity

As I learn more about Solution Focused Therapy and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, I, and those I learn alongside, find ourselves grappling with the simplicity of it. The simplicity of the solution focused process, in which we identify where we want to go, recall our strengths and imagine a positive possible future, wherein we have achieved our best hopes, is sometimes difficult to align with the bulk of our education, which teaches us that the more complex an idea, the better; the more complex an idea, the more important; the more complex the idea, the greater the impact. Or as Alain de Botton writes in The School Of Life: An Emotional Education ‘We could expect humans to display a powerful reflex for the simple over obscure explanations […but our apparent prejudice in favour of enigma…] suggests an implicit belief that the truth should not come in a form that is easily fathomable’.

As Steve Jobs famously pointed out, ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’ In fact, the simplicity of Solution Focused Therapy is arguably its greatest strength. When we are young, we are guided how to hold a pencil in a way that will be most comfortable for our hand and give us the most control over our writing. We practice and, like any other skill hard-earned, with practice we are eventually able to write with ease. The idea that our minds are beyond this simplistic process of learning has dominated psychology for many decades; our minds have long been deep dark pits full of old sores that we must dig up, bring into the light of day and interact with if we have a hope of a mentally healthy future. Indeed this approach has helped many achieve peace through gaining a greater understanding of their inner self.

For some, however, against this analytical backdrop, Solution Focused Therapy is like an outstretched arm from the future. It is unapologetically positive. It accepts our past with compassion, then focuses on where we want to go, and simply guides us into this new, positive, solution focused way of thinking. And it feels good.

Neuroscience has taught us that we can still learn; that, just as we learnt how to use a pencil when we were young, we can learn and relearn how to use our mind, however old we are. Breaking the problem focused mold set by the majority of psychotherapies, Solution Focused Therapy guides us to use our minds to access our strengths and apply them to the future we wish for ourselves. Yes, it feels simplistic to step forward from what a lot of other therapeutic approaches dedicate much of their time to understanding, but it also feels positive, achievable, exciting even, and that’s what makes it Solution Focused Therapy’s greatest strength.

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