Tag Archives: solution focused therapy

10 happy questions

as you know, questions have a special place in my heart (see this post on encouraging questions, for example.)

as i was preparing for a little workshop i facilitated today on solution focused coaching and counselling, i realized that my first discovery of the power of questions was not back in 1999, when i first really learned about the various delightful forms of brief therapy (solution focused brief therapy being one of them) but back in 1991, when i was studying to become a TRAGERĀ® practitioner. TRAGERĀ® is a form of bodywork that, among other things, asks gentle, curious, open questions about delightful possibilities we carry in our minds, hearts and bodies.

we gently shake out our hands, feel the weight, and ask: what could be lighter?

we let our arms hang down loosely and ask our shoulder joints: what could be freer?

we let our legs dangle from a massage table, allowing the calf muscles to relax and ask: what could be softer?

this shows that meaningful questions can be useful not only in one-on-one therapy, with the therapist posing the questions. they can have an important place even if we ask them of ourselves. in fact, questions like these are designed to bring us joy simply by asking them, without regard to what the reply might be.

other example of such happy questions are

  1. what puts a smile on my face?
  2. what feels good on my fingertips?
  3. what’s the beauty in this?
  4. what opens my heart?
  5. how does this delight me?
  6. what’s the song that makes my heart dance?
  7. what feels silky/cool/warm [whatever your favourite sensation is]?
  8. where in my body do i feel god/the creator/the universe right now?
  9. who do i love with all my heart?
  10. what does happiness look like?

what happy questions do you have?

(post script on october 19 – there is a fabulous companion post about this topic on joanna young’s blog – coaching questions of the season)

a solution for “but”

this morning i posted this on twitter:

question to my buddhist friends: fear of connecting deeply with dharma/the divine = fear of ego death?

william replied in a blog post, ego and the self.

he has some interesting thoughts there that i encourage you to explore, and finishes thusly:

the more we meditate and practice various forms of mindfulness, the less it — the ego — feels a need to hold on, knowing that we always come back to the body and its collection of smaller selves we call “me.”

my immediate reaction was, but meditation is exactly one of those things that my ego resists like crazy!

my second reaction was: i just returned from a few hours of solution focused counselling training and would like to see if i can apply some of the things presented there (by richard hyams, by the way).

you see, one of the things we talked about was BUT.

as in,

  • i’d like to apply for this job but i’m too old
  • i think going to school would be a good idea but i have to wait until my law suit is over
  • it’s really time for me to go on a vacation but with this bad economy …
  • i guess this would be a good idea but my friend joe tried it and it didn’t work

you get the drift.

here’s a little dialogue i wrote out in response to my objection:

question: on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being next to nothing and 10 being superhuman force, how strong would you say the resistance is?

answer: different on different days.

q: that’s interesting! what’s the range? maybe 3 on one day and 9 on a really tough day?

a: hm. i’d say somewhere between 4 and 10.

q: superhuman force? you’re pretty strong!

a: well, maybe not superhuman force. enough to keep me from doing it; but i WOULD meditate if i had to or if others were doing it, too.

q: that’s a … what on the scale?

a: 6.5, maybe. actually, a 5.5 because it’s not that i don’t want to. i just don’t do it.

q: interesting. and what would life be like without that resistance?

a: aaaaah. very free.

q: what does that freedom feel like?

a: free. joyful.

q: free and joyful.

a: yes. real good.

q: hm. so. so i take it you’d really like to have that freedom?

a: absolutely! but …

q: but …?

a: but i’m afraid it wouldn’t last.

q: you’re afraid this freedom wouldn’t last?

a: yup.

q: do you think it’s possible to NOT have that fear?

a: oh, yeah, definitely.

q: you sound quite convinced.

a: oh yeah.

q: so you’re convinced that … never mind, why don’t you tell me in your own words. you’re convinced that … ?

a: i’m convinced that it’s possible not to be afraid of losing my freedom. the freedom i’ve gained from losing the resistance to meditate.

q: i wonder what that would sound like if we made it shorter; it’s hard to say it with all the “not’s” in there. what would it sound like?

a: let’s see. okay, here: “i’m convinced it’s possible to … live in the freedom … the freedom that comes from wanting to meditate, and meditating every day.”

q: mmmmh. what’s that like, saying that?

a: it feels like there’s already some freedom. it feels like there’s some space that opened up in my head.

q: in your head?

a: yeah, in my head, because that’s where that fear and reluctance sit.

q: and now there’s more space?

a: yeah. and … i have a question.

q: what’s that?

a: how can i hold on to this, and act on it?

q: let me ask YOU a question: how would you know that you ARE holding on to it, and acting on it?

a: that’s pretty obvious. i’d be meditating every day.

q: and you’re wanting to do it, and it feels very free,

a: yes. i’m wanting it, and it feels free.


a: you know what? how much time do we have left?

q: about 15 minutes.

a: could we meditate together, right here and now? would that be alright?

q: of course! about 10 minutes?

a: perfect!

… and 10 minutes of meditation ensued. thank you, richard!

now what, you wonder, has that to do with NaNoWriMo? you may recall that i pledged to connect every post in november to NaNoWriMo.

it’s actually quite simple. certain of my creative endeavours have a strongly spiritual element. my novel is one. somehow it connects me to the divine. in fact, when i first posted the tweet that i mentioned in the beginning of the post, i was thinking of the slight reluctance to work on the novel.

nuff said. i will now continue with my good novel.