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Vi har i denne uge fornøjelsen af at præsentere et gæsteindlæg af familieterapeut, forfatter og foredragsholder Elliott Connie fra Texas, USA. I den forbindelse gør vi opmærksom på Elliotts første kursus i København d. 2. oktober – og eneste gang i Skandinavien i 2013. Nærmere info fås her: http://www.solutionsbywulf.dk/images/EC.pdf

Solutions Land vs. Problem Land

“The other day I was preparing to see a couple for a second session. The previous session, which had taken place three weeks prior, followed the pattern of my typical sessions. The couple began the conversation quite distant and even curt in their communication with one another, but that demeanor did not last for long.

This couple, like many that come into therapy, had experienced long-standing problems in their relationship that led to hurt feelings, distance and a whole slue of other bad habits. It would have been quite easy for me as the clinician to think this was a couple that came in therapy too late. It would have been quite easy for me to lose hope for this couple even before they said a word. They were looking at each other harshly, interrupting one another and of course yelling and name-calling.

However, I am not the type of person that loses hope easily. So, I carried on asking the hope filled questions associated with the solution building process. We worked together to establish a destination for the therapy then, of course, we began having a conversation about the strength of their love previous to the current problems. The response was amazing but not unusual. As the couple answered these questions they began to make a significant shift in tone and demeanor. They started to laugh and touch, but most of all, they began to answer my questions with rich helpful details about the presence of their love, both in the past and then eventually in their hoped future.

If I am being honest, this response is not unusual in my work with couples and yet I am still amazed every time it happens. Perhaps this is because I do not fully understand what is truly at play when changes such as this take place. I think about this quite often, why is it that when people are asked questions about their love, they some how turn back into the people that have previously been in love? It does not get old, it does ever seem normal, nor is it ever expected. It unfolds freshly and with a sense of newness each and every time.

A few years ago I heard Bill O’Hanlon describe conversations with people like this as discussing Solution Land. Perhaps that is the explanation for the dynamic that takes place when people have conversations about the presence of their love as opposed to the presence of their problems. It just may be that people enjoy staying in Solution Land more than they enjoy Problem Land.

This sits at the heart of the Solution Building process, this process could be viewed as nothing more than a simple invitation into Solution Land. A place that people somehow know how to exist once there but once lost, we forget how to navigate our way back to this mysterious place. This is what makes the questions (invitations to Solution Land) so powerful and may very well explain the shift from a problem orientation towards an orientation of love and hope while answering these questions. It is truly amazing.

Now, back to the couple I was discussing in the first paragraph. When they arrived for their second session it was quite obvious that a problem had reappeared in their lives and relationship since we had last talked. In fact, when the couple first sat down they apologized because this would be “a hard session”. They further explained that they have been arguing all day and these arguments have been bad. When it was my turn to talk, I did what most unwavering hopeful people would do, I asked about progress since the last session. Even though the questions about the improvements were hard for them to answer at first, they eventually moved from the problems of this day and were able to identify and describe significant signs of progress and changes that have offered since our previous session. The rest of the session was spent describing signs of future progress that would occur between this session and the next one. At the end of the session I requested that the couple continue to notice signs that things were continuing to progress. The session ended without ever discussing the origins of the current argument. Once this couple was reminded where Solution Land was, they simply wanted to stay there and needed no further assistance.

A few days later I received an email from the woman in the couple expressing how helpful the second session was, she went on to thank me for not “taking the bait” and allowing them to talk about the problems the whole session. In this email she also informed me that they have been in “heaven” since our last meeting!

It was such a wonderful reminder that it is more important that I offer invitations into Solution Land than it is for me to accept the couples’ invitation into Problem Land.



Elliott E. Connie, MA, LPC