Ideas that Inform My Practice

The problem, not the person, is the problem

I have been working in the counseling field for the past 39 years. Since 1993, the ideas that have most informed my practice have been those first described by Michael White and David Epston. This philosophy is best expressed in their short saying “the problem, not the person, is the problem.” None of us like to think of ourselves as problems, but too often in our life experiences — in our families of origin, in school, or perhaps even with health care providers — we can come to believe that we somehow are “the problem.”

Internalizing that idea compounds problems because, in a very direct sense, it can contribute to our “not feeling so great about ourselves”. I like the idea that no one is their problem and I like even more the idea “there is nothing so wrong with us that what’s right with us can’t fix.” I think this idea is absolutely true whether we are dealing with problems as individuals, as couples, as families or as an organization. There is nothing so wrong with us that what’s right with us can’t fix.

Solution Focused

Along with the idea that we are not our problems (and being taken by a problem is not a preferred way of being) I believe that counseling conversations should be more about solutions than extended discussions about the problem. Why? Because your solutions are really the flip side of the problems that have taken hold of you. For instance, what might you do that you believe will undermine the problem’s hold on you? In my counseling practice, I embrace the assumptions put forward by the field of counseling described as Solution-Focused/Brief counseling. These assumptions can be roughly stated in this way:

  • People have strengths, resources, and the ability to resolve the challenges they face in life.
  • Change is always possible and is always happening
  • The counselor’s job is to help clients identify the change that is happening and to help them bring about even more change.
  • Most problems do not require a great deal of gathering of historical information to resolve them.
  • The resolution of a problem does not require knowing what caused it
  • Small changes lead to more changes.
  • With rare exceptions, clients are the most qualified people to identify the goal of therapy. (Some exceptions to this assumption include having clearly unrealistic goals or pursuing illegal goals.)
  • Change and problem resolution can happen quickly.
  • There’s always more than one way to look at a situation.

You are not your problem

I believe the best way for you to tackle your problems is to know first of all, that you are not your problem (you are really quite a bit more) and that you can begin immediately to focus on solutions that are within your capacity to perform.

If you would like to know more about myself and Central Plains Counseling you can click here. Currently I am accepting new clients by scheduled appointment, telephone, email or Skype. I accept payment through PayPal. — George MacDonald

The Future depends on what we do in the Present —

– Ghandi