Exceptions Find times when the problem would have been expected but didn’t occur Discover times when the problem is not quite as severe What are you doing when the problem is not happening?
Exception questions Can you remember a time when you would have expected to have the problem, but it didn’t happen? Was there a time when you resisted the urge to...? How have you stopped or avoided that when you have been able to? When things are going better and you would never have this problem, what are you doing or what’s going on? Has there been a time in the last while you have been free of this problem?
Methods ExceptionsPrevious solutionsCompetencePositive copingNoticing pre-meeting changeResilience/Bouncing back
Previous Solutions How have you successfully navigated or resolved the same or a similar problem? Find someone in your life who has solved a similar problem well
Previous Solution questions Have you ever successfully dealt with this problem before? Have you ever successfully dealt with a similar problem before? When you have faced this kind of situation in the past, how have you resolved it? What have you tried that’s worked, even a little? Who do you know or know about who has successfully solved this problem or this kind of problem?
Evoke competence Where are you feeling competent and skilled? Who believes or believed in you and your goodness and abilities? What advice would they offer you right now? What advice would you give others who are facing this or a similar problem?
Competence questions What kinds of things are you generally good at? Is there any area of your life or work that you feel proud of what you do or confident about? What kinds of hobbies or creative pursuits do you have in your life? What kinds of social skills or abilities do you have? Can you tell me a bit about how you do that skill or hobby or what attitudes you bring to it that help make it work or go well?
Competence questions Who believes in you or gives you confidence? Was there anyone in your past who believed in you or gave you confidence? What would that person say to you about handling this situation if he or she were here right now? What quality do they or did they see in you that they admired or supported? How might you use that quality in this situation?
Investigate Positive Coping What were your best moments or strategies of coping or dealing with the problem? Contrast those positive coping times with your unhelpful coping moments or strategies How could you get your positive coping strategies to happen more consistently?
Positive Coping questions Tell me about your best moments of coping with this situation. How is that different from your worst moments of coping or other times? How do you explain how you handled it better that (or those times)? How could you make it more likely that this more helpful way of dealing with the situation happens more often or regularly?
Noticing pre-meeting change Has any positive change or progress in the problem situation happened recently? What is your sense or idea about why this change has happened and what might it take to continue this positive change in the future?
Pre-Meeting Change questions Before we met or in the time between when you knew you were meeting with me and now, have you noticed any positive developments or changes? Has anything been better lately? How do you explain how those recent positive changes? What do you think it would take to keep those changes going or even get things to go more in that good direction?
Noticing resilience How have you bounced back from setbacks or recovered from previous challenging or traumatic situations? What is your sense or idea about how you bounced back or recovered your equilibrium or good feelings?
Resilience questions When you have had a major setback or trauma in the past, how did you come back from it? How do you get over things that are hard to get over? Have you ever been knocked down by something in life and gotten back up? How do you think you have gotten back up and on with life after one of those tragedies or life shocks?
Future Pull “The future enters into us, in order to transform itself into us, long before it happens.” –Rainer Maria Rilke “You have to go fetch the future. It’s not coming towards you; it’s running away.” –Zulu proverb “Luckily, the future comes only one day at a time.” – Abraham Lincoln
Future Pull Technique 1 A LETTER FROM YOUR PREFERRED FUTURE Suggest the person write themselves a letter from a future in which things are better or the problem is resolved Tell themselves what is happening in that better future and crucial turning points or decisions that helped get them there Give themselves some encouragement or helpful and compassionate advice from that future self
A Letter From Your Preferred Future Questions Use these questions to guide the letter writing: What have you learned and gained perspective on since back in [fill in the present date/year]? What things were you worried or frightened about in those days that seem trivial or far away for you today? What problems seemed overwhelming or insurmountable in those days that you did eventually resolve or overcome? What sage advice would your future self give to that present self? What comfort or reassurance would your future self give to your present self? Who were you troubled by, frightened by or concerned with that now doesn’t matter as much?
Future Pull Technique 2 A FUTURE WITHOUT THE PROBLEM Imagine/experience a future in which your problem is resolved or you have gotten to a better place Bring yourself back closer to the present (the near future). What part of that future you could bring back or start to create, realize or do soon?
A Future Without the Problem questions If your problem disappeared, what would be different? In your daily actions? In your relationships? In your work? In your thinking? That others would notice? What part of that future without a problem could you start doing right away?
Future Solution questions If I could wave a magic wand and your problem was gone, what would be happening? If your problem disappeared overnight, what would be the first thing you would notice that was different tomorrow as you started your day? If we could take a time machine to the future after you have gotten through this problem, what would I see you doing in your day-to-day life differently from what you have been doing recently?
Future Solution questions If you could have a different future than the one your problems are pointing you towards, what would it be? What is your fondest dream for the future? If someone were writing your obituary or talking about you at your funeral, what would you want them to have said?
Future Solution questions What would you do or focus on as you left this office (or treatment center) that would make it possible or even likely, that better future would come true? What part of that future do you think you could start doing right now? Could you write yourself a letter from your future self that had gotten through all this trouble and tell yourself what that future is like and how you got there?