Characteristics of Traditional Therapies:

  • Conversations for true explanations
  • Searching for evidence of functions for problems (the functions attributed may be either benevolent or malevolent)
  • Searching for or encouraging searches for causes and giving or supporting messages about determinism (biological/developmental/psychological)
  • Focusing or allowing a focus on history as the most relevant part of the person's life
  • Engaging in conversations for determining diagnosis, categorization, and characterization
  • Supporting or encouraging conversations for identifying pathology
  • Conversations for inability
  • Conversations for insight/understanding
  • Conversations for expression of emotion
  • Eliciting clients' expressions of feelings and focusing on feelings
    "How do you feel about that?"
  • Conversations for blame and recrimination
  • Attributions of evil/bad personality or evil/bad intentions
  • Adversarial conversations
  • The therapist believes clients have hidden agendas that keep them from cooperating with treatment goals/methods
  • Using trickery/deceit to get the client to change
  • The therapist is the expert and clients are nonexperts

The New Tradition:

  • Collaborative conversations
  • Clients and therapists are partners in the change process
  • Clients are experts in teaching the therapists about what they are experiencing, have experienced, what they want and what fits for them
  • Conversations for change/difference
  • Highlighting changes that have occured in clients' problem situations
  • Presuming change will and is happening
  • Searching for descriptions of differences in the problem situation
  • Introducing new distinctions or highlighting client distinctions
  • Conversations for competence/abilities
  • Presuming client competence/ability
  • Searching for contexts of competence away from the problem situation
  • Eliciting descriptions of exceptions to the problem or times when clients dealt with the problem situation in a way they liked
  • Conversations for possibilities
  • Focusing the conversation on the possibilities of the future/goals/visions
  • Introducing new possibilities for doing/viewing into the problem situation
  • Conversations for goals/results
  • Focusing on how clients will know that they have achieved their therapeutic goals
  • Conversations for accountability/personal agency
  • Holding clients/others accountable for their actions
  • Presuming actions derive from clients' intentions/selves
  • Conversations for actions/description
  • Channeling the conversation about the problem situation into action descriptions
  • Changing characterizational/theoretical talk into descriptive words
  • Focusing on actions clients can take that can make a difference in the problem situation

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