Stephanie Johnson IS Solution Focused

I referenced a site about a year ago that I ran across which really resonated with me.  It belongs to Stephanie Johnson and can be found at SolutionFocusedCounselling.com. Below is an excerpt from some of her information and I have taken the liberty of adding a period or numbering the list due to some formatting issues on my end when I copied and pasted it.  (Stephanie, I hope you will forgive me!)  It is also very meaningful to me that Stephanie is a Believer and follows some fundamental teachings laid out by the guidance provided by our Heavenly Father.  From Stephanie’s book:

Basic assumptions about people and problems

The following are some of the assumptions and principles of solution focused framework which was influenced by Milton Erickson and the MRI team.

1. People operate out of their internal maps and not out of sensory experience.

2. People make the best choice for themselves at any given moment.

3. The explanation, theory, or metaphor used to relate facts about a person is not the person.

4. Respect all messages from the client.

5. Teach choice; never attempt to take choice away.

6. The resources the client needs lie within his or her own personal history.

7. Meet the client at his or her model of the world.

8. The person with the most flexibility or choice will be the controlling element in the system.

9. A person can’t not communicate.

10. If it’s hard work, reduce it down.

11. Outcomes are determined at the psychological level. (Lankton and Lankton, 1983)

12. Do not need to know the cause of the problem in order to find solutions. (Love This!)

13. Client is the expert in their own life.

14. People become problem saturated and lose their problem solving abilities.

15. People have strengths and resources within themselves to find solutions.

16.  We do not need to go back to the past in order to influence the future.

17.  The problem is the problem, the person is not the problem.

18. Change is inevitable. Small change leads to larger change.

19.  Problems continue when you apply the wrong solution.

20.  People in general are doing the best that they can.

21.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it doesn’t work, try something different.

22.  Once you know what works, do more of it, (Cade, 2007)

The above are the assumptions about people and problems. In some respects it at first appears a simple formula, however the art in solution focused is the timing of interventions and techniques such as the miracle question, and for the counsellor not to get caught up in the problem talk, but move the conversation towards solution focused talk. I don’t know about you, but when I came across these principles it was very liberating as a counsellor to feel that I am not the expert in the client’s life, but a bystander and a facilitator. I found this exciting.

The client is the expert in their own life and we facilitate the process. Solution focused is at the opposite spectrum to psychoanalysis. Solution focused believes that you do not need to go back to childhood or hunt for the root cause of the problem in order to facilitate change. For some clients this is reassuring. Some clients find solution focused to be empowering and hopeful.

In 15 years of experiencing solution focused talk, the word HOPE comes to mind. Having said that solution focused does not have to go back to childhood to find the root cause of this problem is true, however as solution focused is client directed, if the client feels that it is necessary then the  therapist will go there. However if the client is looking for analysis and treatment, then they have the wrong therapist.

In my practice I start where the client is at. I used whatever is useful to the client to facilitate change, as this is what it is all about, CHANGE.

What to know more? See Stephanie Johnson’s E-book, available here  on line at Solution focused counselling.com, called Solution focused counselling…Keeping it Real, The art of  helpful conversations. Only $14.99 Aud.

References:

Cade, B. W. (2007) Springs, Streams and Tributaries: A History of The Brief, Solution-focused Approach. In F. N. Thomas & T. Nelson (Eds) Clinical Applications of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. New York: The Haworth Press.

Lankton, S. and Lankton, C. (1983) The Answer Within: A Clinical Framework of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Be the Revolution!

While I definitely didn’t intend for my blog to be (always) gushing about James River Assembly, the church I attend in Ozark, Missouri, I can also share that sometimes you just know when certain things are inserted into your life and this church continues to breathe influence into my life that couldn’t be more well timed.  We just finished the 9th annual Designed For Life Women’s Conference and it was AMAZING!  We heard from Charlotte Gambill who leads Life Church in England, John & Helen Burns, who started Victory Christian Centre (now known as Relate Church in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada),  Nancy Alcorn of Mercy Ministries, Donna Crouch of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, Marilyn Skinner of Watoto Church in Kampala, Uganda in Africa  and Debbie Lindell of James River Women, a ministry under the umbrella of James River Assembly.

Every single message contained life-giving words….God-inspired truths that resonated across the hearts of the 5,500 women who were there.  We heard:

  • That God is looking for movement through us.
  • You have to choose your position in life AND your disposition in life.
  • That the best part of life is who you get to do it with.
  • That some of the greatest pain in the world stems from “Dad” issues.  That every child is born connected to Mom but their self-identity and strength comes from their Dad.
  • That everything we need to live a full and abundant life is already in us in seed form.  It takes the Holy Spirit to water and fertilize each individual seed to help us have a life that flourishes that can then feed others.
  • If our children had to live on the power of our words, would they be able to?  A person’s childhood is the reference point of their life.  We must take responsibility for the atmosphere in our homes.
  • Time is the currency of life. (LOVE this one!)
  • Relationships should be based on commitment not convenience.
  • Pressure has a way of revealing exactly who and what we are made of.

I was especially excited about Project 12, which is an initiative to help encourage and inspire us to make a difference in the lives of others around us.  We have been talking at work alot about this same type of focus for helping people around us and this will help us take it to the next level.  The fundamental belief is that if we Impact ONE person in our community we will make a difference in the WORLD.  I love the following quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson….

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882); Philosopher, Poet, Author, Essayist

It goes without saying that I simply can’t wait for next year’s DFL Conference which is being held at JQH Arena in Springfield, Missouri.  Debbie’s goal is to have 10,000 girls there and given the revolutionary hearts that her conference sparked this year, I would guess that she will hit that mark!

Ephesians 3:20-21

20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Critical Thinker

Viewing the world through the eyes of our children takes a very focused approach.  My entire life I have been teased about being gullible which I easily translated into “open minded”.  I have been told I was overly optimistic which I easily translated into “openly optimistic”.  I have been chastised for being naive which I easily translated into “keeping a fresh perspective”.  While I have benefited from hundreds of life experiences, all which have hopefully made me a little more wise, I can honestly say that I hope I never lose the ability to be an open minded, optimistic person who works hard at keeping my perspective fresh.

Recently, I picked up Jacob, our 11 year old, from school and on the way home we had his favorite radio station playing.  He loves music and we love that he loves music.  Normally on the way to and from school, he is allowed to be the car DJ.  When a song came on from Justin Timberlake’s new album, Jacob chimed in that some of the kids at school were saying bad things about him up to and including that he was “gay”.  I asked him why they would say that and he said because his voice is so high.  I told Jacob that JT has always been a tremendous performer and is extremely talented and that the kids at school just didn’t understand that some people are just gifted with different ranges of voices when they sing.  I told him that he has been wildly successful and always seemed to me to have his life pretty well put together.  I told him that I thought he had just married his girlfriend of 4-5 years, Jessica Biel, and that she was beautiful and talented as well.  I promised that I would show him a picture of their wedding day.  None of that is to say that I know anything at all about Justin Timberlake’s personal life or have insight into his life choices. It just rubbed me wrong that people, even children, would be so quick to pass judgment on someone that they knew literally nothing about.

It was all too easy for me to wonder what in the world those kids were thinking in saying those type of things when it occurred to me that they had to have heard it somewhere.  Children are the great “repeaters” and we learn our behaviors from those we watch.  It made me sad.  I wondered if any of the children at school have that same voice with a beautifully high range when they sing and if the other kids are unkind toward them causing them to never truly pursue what might be a JT inspired career?  I can’t speak for anyone else’s children but I can certainly try and have influence over ours.  As adults, do we really wonder where our children pick up being critically-minded?  Where every thought is geared towards tearing people down, finding fault or judging them based on some stereotyped image?

That reminded me of a video that I saw during a presentation given by Chester Elton, author of The Carrot Principle, Orange Revolution, and All In among a couple others that I think have come out.  It was the Battle at Kruger and you really have to watch the video to fully appreciate the points that Chester Elton made during his discussion.  It is a riveting, true story about a herd of buffalo, a pride of lions and one really big crocodile all coming together on the shores of a waterhole located in Kruger National Park, South Africa.  The parable is whether, in life, we choose to be a lion or a crocodile whose only purpose is to prey on others, constantly dragging them down or to be a tourist on the sideline and simply watch or to be a buffalo who come together in the herd in support of one another and run to the rescue of one less traveled, less experienced young buffalo. It is 8 minutes of a life-long story that you simply can’t stop watching until the very end.

Our role as believers should be to stand up for the less fortunate, even when they don’t always look like us, sound like us or believe in the same things we do.  It’s easy to be nice when things are “calm at the watering hole”.  Do we strive to be equally nice and supportive to those around us when things aren’t looking so good on the banks of where we get a drink and our thirst is high?  Do we become less diligent with regard to seeing others as Jesus sees us….with unconditional love and an unending forgiveness for things that we haven’t even done yet?  Or do we immediately jump in to tarnish others’ perspectives, making them think and believe the worst, standing on the shoulders of others to make ourselves seem bigger and better in comparison?  We all struggle with those feelings, wanting that hint of superiority, seeking dominance, and appearing all-wise.  And I think we all know, none of those feelings are from God.

I recently shared with my husband how fortunate my sister and I were to have our Grandfather in our lives when we were growing up.  I told Steve that when I was with my Grandfather, he always made me feel like I was amazing.  So I tried with everything I was to be amazing.  He had a way of helping you see things with regard to possibilities instead of hindrances.  A knack of asking you to stretch yourself and put yourself in your “neighbor’s shoes” and giving them the benefit of the doubt.  I told Ashley just the other day when we were talking about somebody that she had encountered that was not very pleasant to interract with that she had no idea what that person was dealing with that day.  Maybe she just lost her child….or found out she had cancer…..or who’s husband was abusive.  We have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives.  We are tasked with being a place of encouragement for those we come in contact with, even when they are in over their heads, come from a different walk of life than what we are familiar with, or sometimes aren’t deserving in our opinion.

You can oftentimes tell when your quiet, kind words find their way in to the heart of your child.  You can see the knowledge soak into them and settle softly in their heart.  You can see the truth become a small gift that they store safely away.  And you know down to your depths that when it really matters, they will bring it back out to share with some one else.  Those are the moments that inspired me in the first place to start this blog.  Patient and Kind…just like the Lord and my Savior has always been to me.

My Favorite – An Angel’s Story

One of my all-time favorite stories is the one below, An Angel’s Story, by Max Lucado.  He presents one of the most moving accounts of God’s grace and love for all of us. Below is only an excerpt, the very beginning of the story.  I would encourage all who can to read the story in its entirety.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

An Angel’s Story (Christmas)

by Max Lucado

“Gabriel.” Just the sound of my King’s voice stirred my heart. I left my post at the entryway and stepped into the throne room. To my left was the desk on which sat the Book of Life. Ahead of me was the throne of Almighty God. I entered the circle of unceasing Light, folded my wings before me to cover my face, and knelt before Him. “Yes, my Lord?”

“You have served the kingdom well. You are a noble messenger. Never have you flinched in duty. Never have you flagged in zeal.”

I bowed my head, basking in the words. “Whatever You ask, I’ll do a thousand times over, my King,” I promised.

“Of that, I have no doubt, dear messenger.” His voice assumed a solemnity I’d never heard Him use. “But your greatest work lies ahead of you. Your next assignment is to carry a gift to Earth. Behold.”

I lifted my eyes to see a necklace—a clear vial on a golden chain—dangling from His extended hand.

My Father spoke earnestly, “Though empty, this vial will soon contain My greatest gift.” …Handing me the necklace, He explained, “This vial will contain the essence of Myself; a Seed to be placed in the womb of a young girl. Her name is Mary. She lives among My chosen people. The fruit of the Seed is the Son of God. Take it to her.”

“But how will I know her?” I asked.

“Don’t worry. You will.”

I could not comprehend God’s plan, but my understanding was not essential. My obedience was. I lowered my head, and He draped the chain around my neck. Amazingly, the vial was no longer empty. It glowed with Light. “Jesus. Tell her to call My Son Jesus.”

The Father whispered to me. I heard Him as if at my side. “Go, Gabriel: go and tell Mary.”

On a wave of worship I flew, this time alone. I circled through the clouds and over the ground. Below me was the city where Mary was born. The Father was right; I knew her in an instant. Her heart had no shadow. Her soul was as pure as any I’ve seen.

I made the final descent. “Mary.” I kept my voice low so as not to startle her.

She turned but saw nothing. Then I realized I was invisible to her. I waved my wings before my body and incarnated. She covered her face at the Light and shrank into the protection of the doorway.

“Don’t be afraid,” I urged.

The minute I spoke, she looked up toward the sky. Again I was amazed.

I praised my Father for His wisdom. Her heart is so flawless, so willing. “Greetings. God be with you.”

Her eyes widened, and she turned as if to run. “Mary, you have nothing to fear. You have found favor with God. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call His name Jesus. He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—no end, ever, to His kingdom.”

Though she was listening, she was puzzled. “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

Before I spoke I looked up into the heavens. The Father was standing, giving me His blessing.

I continued, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

Mary looked at me, then up into the sky. For a long time she gazed into the blueness, so long that I, too, looked up. Did she see the angels? Did the heavens open? I do not know. But I do know when I looked back at her, she was smiling.

“Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.”

As she spoke, a Light appeared in her womb.

The King walked over and reached for the book. He turned it toward Lucifer and commanded, “Come, Deceiver, read the name of the One who will call your bluff. Read the name of the One who will storm your gates.” Satan rose slowly off his haunches. Like a wary wolf, he walked a wide circle toward the desk until he stood before the volume and read the word:

“Immanuel?” he muttered to himself, then spoke in a tone of disbelief. “God with us?” For the first time the hooded head turned squarely toward the face of the Father. “No. Not even You would do that. Not even You would go so far.”

“You’ve never believed me, Satan.”

“But Immanuel? The plan is bizarre! You don’t know what it’s like on Earth! You don’t know how dark I’ve made it. It’s putrid. It’s evil. It’s…”

“IT IS MINE,” proclaimed the King. “AND I WILL RECLAIM WHAT IS MINE. I WILL BECOME FLESH. I WILL FEEL WHAT MY CREATURES FEEL. I WILL SEE WHAT THEY SEE.”

“But what of their sin?”

“I will bring mercy.”

“What of their death?”

“I will give life.”

Satan stood speechless.

God spoke, “I love my children. Love does not take away the beloved’s freedom. But love takes away fear. And Immanuel will leave behind a tribe of fearless children. They will not fear you or your hell.”

Satan stepped back at the thought. His retort was childish. “Th-th-they will too!”

“I will take away all sin. I will take away death. Without sin and without death, you have no power.”

Around and around in a circle Satan paced, clenching and unclenching his wiry fingers. When he finally stopped, he asked a question that even I was thinking. “Why? Why would You do this?”

The Father’s voice was deep and soft. “Because I love them.”

We were a wreath of Light around the stable, a necklace of diamonds around the structure. Every angel had been called from his post for the coming, even Michael. None doubted God would, but no know how He could, fulfill his promise.

I’ve heated the water!”

“No need to yell, Joseph I hear you fine.”

Mary would have heard had Joseph whispered. The stable was even smaller than Joseph had imagined but the innkeeper was right- it was clean. I started to clear out the sheep and cow, but Michael stopped me. “The Father wants all of creation to witness the moment.”

Mary cried out and gripped Joseph’s arm with one hand and a feed trough with the other. The thrust in her abdomen lifted her back, and she leaned forward.

“Is it time?” Joseph asked.

She shot back a glance, and he had his answer.

Within moments the Awaited One was born. I was privileged to have a position close to the couple, only a step behind Michael. We both gazed into the wrinkled face of the infant. Joseph had placed hay in a feed trough, giving Jesus his first bed.

All of God was in the infant. Light encircled His face and radiated from His tiny hands. The very glory I had witnessed in His throne room now burst through His skin.

I felt we should sing but did not know what. We had no song. We had no verse. We had never seen the sight of God in a baby. When God had made a star, our words had roared. When He had delivered His servants, our tongues had flown with praise. Before His throne, our songs never ended. But what do you sing to God in a feed trough?

In that moment a wonderful thing happened. As we looked at the baby Jesus, the darkness lifted. Not the darkness of the night, but the darkness of the mystery. Heaven’s enlightenment engulfed the legions.

Our minds were filled with the Truth we had never before known. We became aware for the first time of the Father’s plan to rescue those who bear His name.

These passages excerpted from: AN ANGEL’S STORY © Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002, 2004 Max Lucado

Easter is coming……

I received an email from YouVersion which is the app I use for the online Bible saying that they had several different devotional plans for the last week before Easter Sunday.  The story below is one I copied from that, written by John Piper:

A Vision for Holy Week

As I have tried to prepare my heart to meet Jesus in a special way on Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and Resurrection Day, a series of pictures has come back to my mind again and again. Let me try to describe the story for you.

A little lamb was born all wooly-white with skinny legs and a wet nose, pretty much like all the other little lambs. But as the lamb grew into a sheep, the other sheep began to notice a difference. This sheep had a strange lump on his forehead.

At first, they thought he’d been hit, but the lump never went down. Instead, a large pad of deep, white wool grew over the lump and made it very soft and firm. The lump might have stopped attracting attention except for the fact that this sheep began to use the lump on his head in very strange ways.

For one thing, the lump seemed to weigh down his head so that he always looked like he was bowing and showing reverence to some invisible king. Then he began to seek out other sheep that were sick or wounded. He would use the firm, soft lump on his forehead to help the weak onto their feet and to wipe away tears.

Whole flocks of sheep started to follow him around, but the goats laughed him to scorn. Sheep were disgusting enough, but a sheep with a queer lump on his forehead was more than they could take. They harassed him all the time and made up jokes and taunts: “How come you hang your wooly head? Your lump made out of woolen lead?” And it just infuriated them that he would walk away from them and keep on doing his quiet works of mercy.

So one day the goats surrounded him and rammed him with their horns until he died, and they left him alone in the field. But as he lay there, something very strange happened. He began to get bigger. The bloody wool fell away and revealed a sleek, white, horse-like hair. The soft pad of deep white wool dropped off his forehead and straight out of the merciful lump grew a mighty horn of crimson steel unlike any horn that has ever been or will be again.

And then, as if by command, the massive Unicorn leaped to his feet. His back stood eight feet above the ground. The muscles in his shoulders and neck were like marble. The tendons in his legs were like cables of iron. His head was no longer bowed, and when he looked to the right or to the left, the crimson horn slashed the air like a saber dipped in blood.

When the sheep saw him, they fell down and worshiped. He bowed and touched each one on the forehead with the tip of his horn, whispered something in their ear, and soared away into the sky. He hasn’t been seen since.

That’s the vision in my mind as I enter Holy Week. It’s a portrait of Jesus Christ painted by Isaiah under the inspiration of God and put on display by Matthew 12:18–21. Like every good work of art, this portrait has a purpose, and the purpose is to cause us to set our hope on Jesus Christ. And I am praying that this will happen in your life, because I know that everything else you set your hope on will let you down in the end. But if you hope in Jesus Christ, he will be honored in your life, and you will never regret it.

AMEN!

 

My Prayer today

My Heavenly Father,

Help me recognize and be thankful for the little things.  Thank you for every detail of my life – all of them combined is what brought me to this place with you by my side.

Thank you for sending your Son to die for me.  Thank you for wanting to be with me.  The longing that I had for children and family, to know them, watch them grow, be involved in their lives and to see them be AMAZING must be only a fraction of what you want for me.  I am humbled by that.

I continue to see that what the enemy intended for evil in my life you turned into good.  You have always been there to take care of me, even when I was unaware.

Help me to be a reflection of your grace and goodness.  Help me to understand that sometimes what I think is all about me is more about breathing influence into the lives of others – please don’t let me miss those opportunities.

I have prayed for wisdom and health my entire life, to have discernment and to be what you intended me to be. Your ever-loving, gracious hand has been holding mine for as long as I can remember.  I am thankful to have been born into a time and place where I can openly express my love and praise for you.

I am thankful for your grace and mercy, for providing me a family who I fiercely love and who loves me in return.  I am thankful for the doors of my life that you continue to open.  May the most recent one be an avenue for my sister and I to quietly help administer a healing in our family that only you are capable of.

All of this I ask in your holy name,

Amen

Family Matters

There is nothing more sobering about the condition of your family life than to travel out of your comfort zone for a couple of weeks and take some time to hold everything at arms length for a bit. Reflecting on where a word of encouragement could have been spoken or when a sarcastic remark could have been swallowed has a way of keeping us focused. As I watch our family function as a unit, we migrate through a variety of situations all of us bringing very different temperaments to the table. And it is commonly those traits that we find most irritating about each other that are so apparent in ourselves. How ironic. Almost makes me laugh if it wasn’t so sad. I have found as I’ve gotten older that one of my primary desires is for my family to establish that “patient and kind” attitude towards one another. To be encouraging rather than competitive. To be protective of one another rather than judgmental. I made the statement recently that when I hear one of them being critical to another, it hurts my spirit. I have no idea if that makes sense to anybody but me, however, that is how it feels. As each of them are striking out on their own path, it is very interesting to watch them process life. We are returning from a family vacation to one of the U.S. Virgin Islands (before you judge let me mention that we have probably taken 4 family vacations together ever and our oldest child is 21, none of which have ever been off the continental United States). Experiencing the thrill of anticipation before we left, the eagerness to finally arrive, the wonder on their faces as they take everything in…..those are the priceless moments. It’s like Christmas – at a certain age when you’re growing up it loses some of its magic. And then you have children and its all back as you experience it thru their eyes again. It’s rejuvenating to the soul.

We have done many things together on our trip such as take a ferry to one of the other islands and explore a landscape that is breathtaking. And snorkel off a beach where just a half hour later an island diver captures a venomous lionfish and throws it on shore for all to see. More about that later. And today the kids are out with a diving instructor named Micky to receive the final instruction to become certified scuba divers. Emotions ranging from excitement to nervousness were very much in play….and the kids were excited too. :). And in the evening as we’re winding down we have played Triominos (love that game!) and LIFE which is hilarious. Especially when you see our oldest be the big risk-taker and our daughter being very conservative. In real life they are opposite of that for the most part. And then our youngest….well he’s just a delight all the way around. We visited Coral World yesterday (which was so fun) and he tripped and fell hard over some rocks and landed on his shins and palms and it broke my heart to see how hard he tried to be brave. Once we got him out of viewing range of everyone, he finally cried and allowed me to put some Neosporin on there and to wipe the cuts off with a tissue. He was so worried about how it all appeared and didn’t want a fuss made. He’s 11 so I fussed over him when nobody was looking. Yep, good ole Mom had a package of clean tissues and a travel-size Neosporin spritzer in my purse. Just in case someone crashed and burned at Coral World. As he slips his hand into mine and tells me “thanks for always taking care of me, Mom” I can tell you that every second of time that went into planning this trip together as a family has been worth it.

When we arrived at Red Hook Dive Center this morning to see the kids off for their dive certification, Jacob was carrying Ashley’s dive bag, Jamie had Jacob’s stuff slung over one shoulder and the dive instructor had to ask Ashley to let Jacob get his own dive gear together because she was going to do it for him. So, as different as each of them are, they are united by a bond that will preempt every other obstacle waiting for them in the years ahead. They are and will forever be family.