Using Solution-Focused Questions in Therapy After a TBI

Family therapist Taryn Stejskal talks about the Solution-Focused Therapy Model that uses questions like the Exception Question and the Miracle Question to help people engage in their own problem solving.

So rather than using directives in therapy, I like to use questions. When I give directives, I think people feel talked down to. They feel as though they're being told what to do and they're not asked to be part of the process, part of constructing what the solution looks like. And so in order to better engage people in therapy and their own treatment, I think it's helpful to ask people questions. So there's a series of questions that come from the solution-focused therapy model, and that was developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg and one of the questions that they developed for their model was this idea of the exception question, and the exception question is basically the idea behind the exception question is that no problem happens all the time. So rather than asking people "Tell about your problems," we want people to start talking about solutions. And so what the exception question does is it begins to move people in that direction by saying, "Tell me about the times when the problem doesn't occur." And then we try to figure out what is it about those times when the problem doesn't show up and try to expand more of those types of experiences. The miracle question, also drawn from the solution-focused therapy model. This is the idea that we say to people, "Suppose that you wake up tomorrow and you realize that all of your problems have been solved." Right? "How would you know that, and what would that look like?" Now working with people that have had brain injuries, what do you think people say? Well, they say, "I wouldn't have this injury." Right? But we don't want to let that deter us as clinicians. We say, "Okay. If you didn't have this injury; if that's your miracle, what would you be doing that would be different?" Right? Or "How would those problems be solved?"
Posted on BrainLine January 8, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.