Finding What's Worked for You Before & Using It

Being a mental health professional means correcting a lot of misconceptions about your career. When I tell someone what I studied, I'm usually met with the same few reactions.

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There’s the famous, “Are you psychoanalyzing me?”

(Yes. I am. It’s your mom’s fault.)

(Just kidding.)

Then, there’s, “Good for you. I could never do that all day. So sad!”

No! Actually it’s really inspiring and awesome.

And, “Is it exhausting talking about people’s problems all the time?”

And okay, yeah, there is a lot of talking about problems in therapy. I list this as a common misconception about the life of a mental health professional because a) with the right self-care, it totally isn’t exhausting, and b) there are actually a lot of opportunities within the therapy room to focus on the positive.

In social work graduate school, I was introduced to a type of psychotherapy called solution-focused brief therapy. Pioneered by social workers Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer, this theory recognizes the huuuuge emphasis psychotherapists previously placed on problem-talk and challenges it.

One of the core components of SFBT is to examine what is working in your life, even if it’s working only a teensy tiny bit, and repeat those actions. Do more of what has worked for you before. The idea is that, even when things are definitely totally absolutely awful, there are moments in your life in which they are less awful.

I love this idea because I think it’s super transferable from the therapy room to your own every day life. Reflecting on this on your own is easy, and you may come to some surprising discoveries when you really think about it.

So give it a try! Think about a problem that you’re having. For example, say that you are having a problem feeling motivated to write for your blog (ahem).

  1. How motivated are you right now to write for your blog?
  2. Think about a time that you WERE very motivated to write.
  3. What was different about that time?

On the day that you were more motivated compared to today, did you sleep differently? Eat differently? Socialize differently? Look differently? Was your location different? Were you listening to music? Drinking coffee? What time of day was it? What did you do right before you sat down to write? Were you sitting on your bed? At a table? Was the room you were in clean or messy?

Do whatever you need to do to really remember this, whether it’s writing it down, talking it through with a friend, or just reflecting quietly on your own.

When you’ve got a good picture of the differences between your “Ugh writing is so hard” and your “YES I AM A BLOGGING GODDESS” moments, see what you can do to recreate what worked for you. If it worked before – why couldn’t it work again?

click for more info on Solution-Focused Brief Therapy!