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December 13, 2011

Solution Focused Therapy

A: What would you like to talk about?
C: I have a problem with my friend. We’re not as close as we used to be. We both kind of went off and did our own thing the last couple years, which was great, and we maintained a friendship that was manageable long distance. And we had phone calls every now and then and get togethers when we were in town, but now that I’m home again, we’re just finding that we don’t have a lot in common anymore. Which sort of makes it difficult to hang out or do much other than just get a coffee once every other week.
A: What have you been doing other than getting a coffee?
C: We’ve just been getting coffees, or going for a walk.
A: How was it when you went for a walk?
C: It was fine. It was fun, but we didn’t really do anything. It was just like small talk and catching up, conversation. It wasn’t going to do something fun, per se. I didn’t really get much enjoyment out of it.
A: What are some of the things that you used to do together before?
C: We would do really silly things, like go for drives to random places or we would plan trips together. We went to Chicago once, and she came to Europe once, to visit me when I was done with school. And we would carve pumpkins together, and like I don’t know, just do random activities that were fun. We baked things together, we made cakes a lot.
A:It sounds like you really had a lot of fun together!
C: We did. It was great.
A: Have you brought up any of these ideas to her recently when making plans to get together? Like instead of going to get coffee or go for a walk?
C: Yes and no. She’s very busy now, or she represents herself as being very busy. Which, I don’t know if I necessarily agree with entirely. I mean, she’s busy, but I don’t think she’s that busy. But, it just often comes down to, we don’t have the time to watch a movie, or we don’t have time to watch a whole movie. Or we don’t have the time to bake a whole cake. Or, for example, if we are carving pumpkins, she’ll have already done it with her boyfriend, or something. And a lot of the things we used to do, she does with her boyfriend, or she doesn’t have the time to do.
A: It sounds like, when she says she’s busy, you’re wondering, is she too busy for me, rather than maybe busy in general?
C: Yeah, I think that’s a fair statement.
A: So you said you had kind of and kind of not brought up this idea before, about doing something different. Can you tell me about a time when you brought up a new idea.
C: I’ll just suggest something, and she’ll just say, oh yeah, that would be fun, but then she’ll follow up, ‘but, I have a paper’ or ‘but I told my mom I’d do this with her’, and it just seems that time and time again there’s always a but, and so I just stop asking after awhile.
A: What could you say to her to express how you feel, like how you’re telling me right now?
C: I have a feeling that if I said anything blatant about it, we would both sort of realize that it’s sort of true that we don’t have much in common, or that we both have additional priorities that sometimes take away from our friendship. So I have a feeling that even if I brought it up, we would both realize some things that I just don’t want to realize.
A: It’s interesting to me that at first you had mentioned that it was that you don’t have anything in common anymore, and you just said that you think she has additional priorities now. Is it more about your changing interests, or is it about the amount of time that she has to spend with you?
C: I think she has less time, and because of that, we don’t do things. So then I think that we don’t have as much in common. So I guess, deep down, we probably both like the same things, but we also like different things. We’ve both grown to like different things when we were apart. And those things aren’t necessarily the same, which may intersect with time obligations, as well. So I think it’s a compilation of things, but ultimately at the end of the day, I feel that we don’t have that much in common because it seems like we can never actually get together to do something, other than just catch up.
A: What are some things that you still do have in common?
C: We love to kayak. This summer I suggested kayaking on multiple occasions, and she was always too busy. She had legitimate excuses, I thought, like going up north for the weekend, or it was someone’s birthday, a family member. It’s not like she just said no, but we ended up not going out at all this year. Which was really sort of upsetting because summer is quite long and there’s so many weekends, and really you can go in Spring, Summer, or Fall. So I just felt like it was kind of pathetic that we could never really find a time. Especially since I’m pretty available. I don’t have that much going on, and I just felt like it was kind of weird that it wasn’t more of a priority for her to then come back and suggest a time that she was free.
A: What are some other things that you have in common?
C: Well, I mean we like a lot of the same music groups, so sometimes we would get together and share music a lot or we might send each other emails, saying have you heard of this band. And occasionally, we’ll send each other songs still, but it’s nothing like it was, and I feel like a big part of my music collection came from her. But then, and this sort of comes in to where we changed, she just sort of got bitter when I was away, and I’d be listening to the radio, to pop hits, and she would turn to me and say, “How can you listen to that shit?” And like something really blunt, and almost borderline offensive. And she said, I took this feminist class where we analyzed the lyrics and they’re so degrading to women. And I can understand that, because they are not nice lyrics often, but I don’t sit there and like think about the cultural ramifications of the youth of America. I just want to dance, and it’s just little things like that that just drove this little splinter into my hand, figuratively, and just little things began to set us off, and the things that we had in common, I started to resent, so it’s just this transition.
A: It sounds like you’ve been friends for a long time and have grown and changed a lot during those years, and she has too. Has there been other times in your relationship when you’ve noticed yourself growing apart from her and how did you work through that?
C: It really started when I moved away to undergrad. She stayed at home and still lives with her parents. She’s never left, so I just felt like she wasn’t stuck in the same high school mentality. She definitely changed in a way, but she had a couple of boyfriends in that time. And she went from being really giggly and carefree to not. She had one boyfriend who she thought thought she was really stupid, so then she got really strict and straight laced and never laughed and never smiled, and now she whips her new boyfriend around like she’s the boss of him. I think after that relationship, she changed, and also, since I was away, it could have been gradual, it could have happened over 2 or 3 years, but since I was gone, I just saw the before and after, and it was kind of a shock.
A: It seems like your interests have really changed in the last few years. Also how she’s reacting to you. What changes have there been in the past few years that you view as positive?
C: She’s certainly changed for the positive, but it’s hard to compare two things, because I’ve changed too, so I don’t know if it’s her change that makes me uncomfortable or my change that makes me feel uncomfortable. So that’s one thing, but I don’t know.
A: People do grow and change, and it is hard, when you’re friends and you come back and see them as a different person. If you think about what your relationship was before and you both have grown now, and your relationship is different now, what would you like your relationship to look like?
C: That’s a really good question because I was sort of evaluating that myself, awhile back, and thinking what are my expectations, and I’ve actually grown more content with our current level that I had been, in the last couple months. It was sort of discomforting knowing we were so different, but then I sort of grew, and I’m not one hundred percent with it, but I’m okay with where it’s at now, and at this exact moment, I don’t want to go back and have it be what it was in high school. Because we are different, and there’s no point in going back and recreating something that’s not real for the sake of doing it, but at the same time, not that she’s a stranger, but just that I’m not an active part of her life, and she’s not an active part of my life, and even though we live like a four minute drive away, I feel like I’m closer with my friend who lives out in Boston, and I feel like I never communicate with Jen as much, which is both of our faults, for that aspect of it, but I guess it’s turning into what it is, and I guess I’m more okay with it, and in a way, I’ve found new friends that fill certain voids in my life because I’m still going out and doing fun things, they’re just with different people, and in new contexts, and it’s just a new direction in a way. And while it is unsettling at the same time, I do see some good that can come of it because it just develops into a new type of friendship.
A: So you can see how you both have changed, and you don’t have the same the same things in common. You know, it’s curious to me, because when we first started out, you talked about how it’s really bothering you how you don’t have things in common anymore and how you feel like you’re not a priority to her anymore, and now when I ask you what you’re looking for in a relationship with her and how you’d like it to be, it’s almost like you’re saying ‘as it is’. Tell me more about that.
C: I guess change is always unsettling in some form and takes getting used to, but I mean, it bothers me because it feels like a loss, and I’m starting to understand that it’s not really a loss, it’s a change. So, it’s unsettling, but I’m getting used to it, and I guess I don’t know if I’m okay with it. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m okay with it, to make it less awkward, because I think that if I tell myself that this is what it is, there’s not much that you can do, so as long as you’re happy you can embrace it, kind of thing. I think it wouldn’t help anyone if I was just like ‘I need you’, ‘I want you’, ‘be my friend’. Because it’s just not what it is, and you know, it’s not like I don’t see her at all, we’re just different. It’s just hurtful in a way because we’re not as close. I don’t tend to share things with her that are close and personal. So, I feel like, the role she used to play in my life, like a support role, she doesn’t really play that role anymore. And that was kind of a hard change too. And since I’m not telling her, I’m at fault too, certainly. Because it’s not like she wouldn’t want to listen to it. She’d be more than willing to chat and stuff, but I have reservations because of the situation, so it’s not really like it’s her fault at all.
A: It’s really interesting to me because you’re main concern initially was your relationship with her, but to me it almost sounds like it’s more of an internal struggle. Maybe not really improving your relationship with her, but accepting your relationship with her inside yourself, and recognizing that you have all these other people in your life who are maybe stepping up and fulfilling these roles that she used to play, like your friend in Boston, who you mentioned feeling very close to. Would you say that that’s a fair statement?
C: Definitely, and it’s just that internal struggle and finding like what’s comfortable and dealing with the uncomfortable aspects. And I think it’s just a control thing. I think a lot of things come down to control and how what once was isn’t, and there’s nothing I can really do about it, and I’m starting to figure out that it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Moves:

The move I used is matching. It was effective because I was hoping for him to clarify his thoughts about her being too busy for him. Evidence: “Yeah, I think that’s a fair statement”.

The move I used was a closed question. It was an ineffective move. My desired outcome was to find an exception, but it didn’t work because I used a closed question. Evidence: “I’ll just suggest something, and she’ll just say, oh yeah, that would be fun, but then she’ll follow up, ‘but, I have a paper’”.

The move I used was role play. It was an Ineffective move. My desired outcome was to encourage him to think about what he would say to her, as a form of planning, but he did not think talking to her about their relationship would be effective in solving the problem. Evidence: “So I have a feeling that even if I brought it up, we would both realize some things that I just don’t want to realize.”
This move was my attempt at thinking laterally, but it was an Ineffective move. I hoped to find an exception, but it led to problem saturation instead. Evidence: “She definitely changed in a way, but she had a couple of boyfriends in that time... I think after that relationship, she changed, and also, since I was away, it could have been gradual, it could have happened over 2 or 3 years, but since I was gone, I just saw the before and after, and it was kind of a shock.”
This move is transforming. It was effective because he was focusing a lot on the problem and the negatives, and my desired outcome was for him to think about the positive changes in the relationship, which for him was a new way of viewing it. Evidence: “so I don’t know if it’s her change that makes me uncomfortable or my change that makes me feel uncomfortable”.

This is the miracle question. My desired outcome was for him to think about what a realistic relationship would look like now that they have both grown and changed. It was effective. Evidence: “That’s a really good question because I was sort of evaluating that myself, awhile back, and thinking what are my expectations, and I’ve actually grown more content with our current level that I had been, in the last couple months.”

Posted by desolada at December 13, 2011 10:10 AM

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