Why Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is Gold when it comes to Relationship Trouble
This week's guest blogger is Sheina Schochet, LMHC, a licensed therapist, relationship coach, and professor living in NYC. Sheina works with successful women struggling with relationships, body image, and/or life transitions, teaching them to work on solutions and challenge the thoughts and behaviors that keep them stuck. Sometimes we find ourselves unconsciously repeating patterns that contribute to dissatisfaction in our relationships. Therapy can be a tremendous resource for identifying habits that don't serve us and developing a healthier mindset. Here is Sheina to discuss those roadblocks.
Imagine you have just had yet another blow out with your significant other over some variation of the same thing that ALWAYS comes up. "This isn't working, we keep fighting about the same thing. Maybe we're just not meant to be," you think to yourself, or worse, say out loud. Now, picture what happens after you said that loaded statement...
Pick up any “Fair Fighting Rules” list for relationships, and there are a few common items that you will see pop up on all of them- Stay with the present issue, Don’t bring up the past, Attack the problem and not the person, and more along these lines.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) aligns perfectly with so many of these “rules”! It is a fresh change from therapy of the past that never ended once it began. (And, really, who needs MORE of that where relationship issues are concerned?!) I think we can agree that harping on the issues doesn’t do much good for the health of the the couple. You know those circular arguments that never end? Does going on about the reason WHY he did something or she said something ever actually help make things better? Or does it just leave the both of you feeling more resentful and giving the silent treatment, or worse?
SFBT is what it sounds like- it focuses on solutions rather than problems. With couples, rather than replaying what isn’t working, it looks at the more isolated moments when things are working and going well to try and create more of them. The therapist will explore when the two of you feel like you are "on" as a couple and look at what is happening in those moments to help make them the rule rather than the exception. It is goal-oriented, taking into account what the couple would like their future to look like and figuring out concrete ways to get there.
The brief part of SFBT is one of the things I like most. SFBT can show results in weeks or just a couple months, rather than months and months or years. It recognizes that small changes ripple into big results and that positive steps in the right direction build off of each other. Do you notice how when you try to be ready to leave to events on time (rather than being 20 minutes late, again) the drive there and the rest of the night are so much more pleasant?
And, yes, sometimes some relationships are just not meant to be and don't work out. SFBT works well in those situations too. You can use the same techniques one-on-one to get clarity on what you want out of life for yourself, individually, and what you would like to look for and build in a healthier relationship down the road.
To Moving Onward!