Friday, April 11, 2008

The Miracle Question

"Insanity: repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
- Unknown

Sometimes when people come into counseling, they know something is very wrong but they don't know how what it is and they got lost in their confusion. One way to help them figure this out is to ask them the Miracle Question. This question comes from Solution Focused Therapy and I find it is very useful to help clients (or myself) focus on what is really bothering me and what I would like to see changed. Basically the question goes something like this:

"If you could wake up tomorrow and a miracle had happened and you no longer had all of these problems, what would be different from how things are now?"

From here, people will go on to say what they would want to have changed. Sometimes, you can't do anything about things (like if they say they want a person who has died to alive again) but often they will say things that are somewhat possible. From here you can come up with solutions for many of these things. Two ways solution focused counselors do this is by looking for exceptions and finding what's worked in the past.

For instance if in answer to the miracle question someone said "I would have a happier marriage" the therapist might ask them how they would know that. "Well . . . we wouldn't fight so much." The therapist would look for an exception: was there ever a time when you weren't fighting? "Yes, when we first got married." What was different? "Well, I didn't nag my husband so much and try to control him. Also my husband and I talked a lot more." Suddenly, you have something to go on. Can you imagine not nagging him now? "Possible." Maybe a solution would be to stop nagging him, does nagging every work for you? "No." Well let try a new solution, no nagging no matter what. . .

What's worked in the past is similar. "Well, in the past, we went out for dinner once week, I didn't watch so much TV, and we both didn't work so much. " From here, you can look at solutions that worked in the past and try doing them again. It's amazing how we as people forget/ignore what used to work in our lives! If you feel "stuck" in a problem try the miracle question and look for exceptions and what's worked in the past.With a focus on personal responsibility "What can I do to change the situation" I have found this approach helpful with couples and individuals. A good book on the subject of SFT with couples is this one.

May Light increase!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a great question! I'm going to try that the next time I feel like I'm faced with an impossible problem. I have never thought of looking at it that way before. Thanks Mark!