Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Solution Focused Brief Therapy/coaching - The Amazing Benefits


Solution Focused Brief Therapy was discovered in the mid 1980’s by Insoo Kim Berg, Steve De Shazer and their colleagues at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  They spent more than 25 years observiing hundreds of hours of sessions and preserved what supported desired client change and discarded what didn't, carefully paying attention to the questions, behaviors and emotions that helped clients form realistic, achievable, real-life solutions . It is a different way of facilitating therapy compared to other therapeutic techniques and orientations, whereby it is a questions-based approach that is focused solely on the client achieving their Desired Outcome.  This orientation also has a shorter amount of total sessions, usually 1-8.  SFBT has one of the highest rate of client change compared to other orientations.  It is focused on the conversation between the client and therapist about how and what the client wants to feel and experience as a result of therapy. This helps focus the therapy on the client being an active participant and taking control of his/her results.  It is absent of teaching, providing resources, suggestions, coping skills, etc. and all about building the client up by helping them in 4 ways.  1. Internal resources/strengths. 2. History of the desired outcome. 3. Scaling questions, and 4. Desired outcome future description.  

The first, and most important step is asking questions to get a clear desired outcome, not a goal.  These are different.  The desired outcome is much bigger and deeper and more meaningful than a goal, which comes from an internal state rather than something external, that may not have deeper, personal meaning.  Therefore, we ask questions such as, “What difference would that make to you if you achieved …?”  or What would it mean for you to achieve…?”  An internal state may be something like happiness, peace, self-worth, confidence, hope or taking care of others in the way the client would want to, etc.  These types of outcomes have been found to be much more motivating for clients to work toward..

After the desired outcome is established, which will be the foundation for the therapy sessions, the conversation can go 4 different ways as stated above.  The first one is the client’s Strengths/Resources.  This is focused on the resources/strengths the client draws upon within themselves in achieving whatever successes they have achieved in their lives, regardless of how small.  Everyone has them, even if they don’t think they do.  As therapists, it is our responsibility to believe that every client is amazing and resourceful, because they are.  The key is asking them specific questions that will access and bring out this version of themselves.  They may say they have never been successful or accomplished anything.  In this case, the success is they came to therapy.  Ask questions around how they made that decision, how they were able to come to the session today, and what abilities or skills helped them accomplish this.  The list of questions are endless.  It has been proven that when a person’s feels empowered and has hope, creative solutions and resources flow from, what appears to be, out of nowhere!

The second aspect of SFBT in achieving the desired outcome, is talking about the History of the Desired Outcome, that is, when the present desired outcome was experienced in the past.  This conversation is focused on asking detailed questions about how and what the client did to experience the desired outcome in the past as well as a detailed conversation about the presence of the present desired outcome in the past.  Questions such as, “How did you know your (desired outcome) was present?” “What difference did it make to you to have it show up at that time?”

The fourth is describing their Future of the Desired Outcome. When client’s provide details about who they would be, what they would be doing, how they would be doing it, and what others close to them would notice, change happens in the most powerful way.  The more detail the better in creating this reality.  It’s not the therapist’s job to figure out or lead the client to what kind of change will happen since every client is different and every client will tap into what is important to change for themselves.  If the therapist gets in the way, it can limit what the client can change.

This is a brief overview of SFBT.  The way to master it is to practice a lot as well as view actual SFBT sessions.

If you are a therapist/coach and would like to learn how to utilize this effective, empowering, change-oriented therapy with your clients, or if you would like to experience it as a client, please contact me at (805)279-4686.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Being Gentle with Yourself is the Path to True Success and Fulfillment

We don't talk much about being gentle with ourselves as the best way to live a happy, productive and fulfilling life.  Rather, the world promotes striving, forcing, controlling, manipulating, judging and criticizing ourselves instead.  We think this way of thinking and being will motivate us to be more productive and achieve our goals more effectively, but it actually has the opposite effect.  Evidence has shown that criticizing and judging ourselves makes us feel like nothing we do is ever good enough and contributes to lack of motivation, depression, anxiety, addictions, procrastination, perfectionism, and low self-esteem.  Kindness and gentleness towards ourselves will give us more motivation to enjoy the process of achieving our goals and increase our energy, strength, peace, joy and love.  This is the only environment that will foster health, mentally, emotionally and physically.  The bible says, 'Rather it shall be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.' - 1 Peter 3:4.  If a child fails at something, you wouldn't berate them for it because it will make them feel worse than they already do. The child internalizes the message that they are not good enough and they will connect their worth to what they do rather than to who they are.  Instead, it's important to help them understand that failure is a necessary part of life and their only responsibility is to learn from the mistake, let it go and do their best.  Tell them they are worthy and loved no matter what they do (behavior).  Some behaviors, of course, are inappropriate and require consequences, but that is separate from WHO they are as a person.  A nurturing parent would love them just the same, regardless of their poor behavior.  We need to use this same approach as adults, because that child is still an important part of us. 

 The first step is becoming aware of our negative, critical thoughts without judgement and then replace those thoughts with more realistic, positive, gentler ones.

Being gentle with ourselves also includes honoring and acknowledging our feelings, no matter what they are, or whether we think they are "acceptable" or not.  It's necessary to work through and process feelings in order to learn what they have to teach us as well as healing past pain.  Journaling thoughts and feelings is a great way to do this and increases self-knowledge and self-awareness.  

 Acknowledging our successes, no matter how small, is another way to be loving and gentle with ourselves.  

 Taking these action steps will help us be more integrated, whole individuals and lead to greater productivity, motivation and emotional balance.  Even the bible talks about the importance of being gentle with ourselves.  'Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.' - Colossians 3:12.

Achieving gentleness with ourselves can be difficult, especially if you grew up in a family that was very negative and critical, but it is possible if you believe it is.  Matthew 19:26 says, "With God, all things are possible." It takes work, but will be well worth the effort in creating a joy-filled, successful life filled with love and peace.

Peace and blessings,



Saturday, July 11, 2020

Inner Child Healing

Do you struggle with obsessive thoughts, anxiety, depression or addictions?  Are you unhappy and unfulfilled in life, but don't know why?  Do you have difficulty trusting yourself and others?  Are you disconnected from your feelings?  Do you constantly criticize yourself?   Do you struggle with paralyzing fear at the thought of starting a new project or endeavor?  Do you struggle with perfectionism and procrastination?   Are your relationships painful?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you most likely have a wounded inner child. Inner Child healing and integration with the Healthy Adult part of us is imperative if we are to be mature, happy, peaceful, joyful, responsible, emotionally healthy and productive adults.  People who have an inner child that isn't healed tend to react unconsciously to today's issues and situations out of past pain, rather than responding out of choice in the present.  If it’s hysterical, it’s historical. This means that if your reactions to present situations in your life are bigger than the situation calls for, it’s from the past. 

You're probably asking, "What is an inner child and what's the point in dealing with him/her now as an adult?  My childhood is past and long gone."  Yes, this is true, but until you address what happened back then, you will never be completely free.  You will be bound by past negative learned beliefs that are unconsciously controlling your life.  Neuroscience has shown that most of our decisions, actions, emotions and behavior depend on the 95% of brain activity that lies beyond conscious awareness, meaning that 95% (or as much as 99%) of your life comes from the programming from your subconscious mind, which was formed from birth to age 7.  This is an astounding number!  Basically, most of life, moment by moment is controlled by the past and has almost nothing whatsoever to do with the present.  That is, unless we reprogram the subconscious mind.

Some symptoms of a wounded, unhealed inner child are people pleasing, lacking a strong identity, feeling guilty for standing up for yourself, feeling inadequate or not good enough, difficulty identifying feelings, addictions, fear of abandonment, and self-criticism.  It takes time, patience, and work to heal the inner child, but it will be the best investment of your life.  The goal is to create a relationship with your inner child that is based on love, support, fun, acknowledgement, acceptance, encouragement and safety that was missing growing up.  I will share some action steps you can take today to start healing and reparenting your inner child.  

The first step is attending and working a 12-step program.  I recommend Adult Children of Alcoholics.  This program is based on reparenting the inner child in a loving, supportive environment.  Shame gets healed more effectively in group environments where people can share their experience, strength and hope with others.  The website is www.adultchildren.org.

The second step is to write a letter asking for permission from him/her to create a collaborative relationship and work together to learn new healthy ways of living and being.  There may be mixed emotions, such as anger, in response to this, so be very patient, because it will take time for your inner child to trust you.  It's imperative to create consistency, stability and predictability in order for the inner child to feel safe opening up, so on a regular basis, write to your inner child asking questions such as, "How are you feeling?"  "What would you like to do today?"  "What do you need from me?"  Then, have the inner child write the responses back to you.  Next, you, the adult, acknowledge their feelings and take appropriate action in meeting those needs.  This will build trust, safety and connection. Make this an ongoing practice.  As we all know, building relationships takes time, energy, and effort.

The third step is to utilize affirmations.  Affirmations are a very powerful way to praise and build up the inner child.  Examples are, "I love you," "I see you," "I accept you for who you are," "You are special," You are unique," Your feelings matter," or create your own.  This will be effective in replacing the past negative messages and beliefs with more positive, realistic ones.

Lastly, listening to inner child guided visualizations and self-hypnosis programs is essential in healing the inner child and can be found on sites like YouTube.  They reprogram the subconscious mind and empower people to live from a place of conscious choice, and therefore, help them stop reacting unfavorably to the situations and people around them.

These are a few steps you can take to start healing and integrating the inner child into yourself and your life.  Inner child healing and reparenting has been the most powerful and beneficial work I have ever done in freeing myself from the past and has enabled me to live with more joy, love, peace, confidence and strength. 

Please share any comments about how you have connected with and/or healed your inner child.  

For more information about me visit www.expectmiraclestherapy.com

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Learning how to love, accept and value ourselves God's way

In order for us to love, accept and value ourselves, we need to connect with and allow God's love in.  His love is perfect, complete, and unconditional.  His love for us created the ultimate sacrifice - His son, Jesus, dying on the cross to take away the sins of every one of us, if we accept him into our heart. There is no greater love than this. His love for us is beyond anything we can ever fathom.  Genesis 1:26-27 says, "we are made in the image and likeness of God."  Psalm 139:13-16 says "we are fearfully and wonderfully made and all my days were already written."  We are not a mistake.  God created us intentionally in love with a unique purpose that only we can fulfill.  Once we have accepted Jesus as our savior, we have the love of Him and we can tap into that love whenever we want.  It's not dependent on anything outside of us - Jobs, money, possessions, people, even ourselves. This is selfish self love.  This is what the world teaches us about self love.  It's actually backwards.  This is prideful, focuses on the self, and doesn't add value to life.  It minimizes our potential and is based in fear.  Nothing outside of us can provide what only God can.  Through this understanding, we always know that we are enough just as we are, perfect, whole and complete, regardless of any mistakes, fears, doubts, failures or sins we have committed, are currently committing or will commit in the future.  When we sin, we can ask for forgiveness, let it go and move on.  We are free. Without God, we are nothing and with God, we are everything.  What a beautiful miracle we have in Jesus. He is our everything.  When we can love ourselves God's way, whatever we have or don't have on the outside, doesn't affect that love.  We still feel the same amount of love from Him, because it's not dependent upon anything outside of us.  Possessions, relationships, jobs, money come and go, but God's love for us is constant and always accessible at any given moment, regardless of what we are doing, where we are or how we are feeling. It's there for all of us. This is the gift of grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, " My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
We are only responsible to do our best because our confidence is in Him. That is enough.  He will give us all the strength and confidence we need to do whatever He has called us to do.  This is the gift of the Holy Spirit in us.  Jeremiah 17:7 says, "Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, Who's confidence is in Him."
Ephesians 3:16-18 says, “I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with the power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."
You may be asking how do I start to achieve this kind of self love and worth?
1.  Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you haven't already.  In order to do this, say, "Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.  Please forgive me.  Come into my life.  I receive you as my Lord and Savior.  Now, help me to live for you the rest of this life.  In Jesus name, I pray. Amen."
2.  Develop, utilize and share the unique gifts He has blessed you with in your life with others.
3.  Ask Him to help you become aware of and take away whatever or whoever is blocking you from seeing yourself the way God sees you and living the life He has planned for you.
4. Practice thanking and praising God for everything in your life, even the small gifts and watch your blessings multiply.
5. Compile a list of bible scriptures that demonstrate God's unfailing love for you and look at them daily as a reminder and faith builder.
6.  Connect with other believers and join a church community to build you up so the worldly ways won't drag you down and make you veer from God.

I would love to hear your comments about this topic and any actions you are taking or have taken that has helped you increase Your self love and acceptance God’s way.

If you would like further support on how to love yourself God's way, feel free to contact me at (805)279-4686 and check out my website at www.expectmiraclestherapy.com.  I provide sessions by phone or in person.


Monday, January 18, 2016


Believe in your heart that your dreams can and will come true or something better will replace them for your highest and best good.  Don’t ever let go of the vision in your heart.  If God put it there then it will come to fruition, just not in our time or our way.  That’s the difficult part.  Let go of how it is supposed to look.  Tune into God's guidance every minute of every day and take action on that guidance, no matter how silly, confusing or disjointed it may seem.  There is a Plan and know that the Plan is always in our best interests, even though it may not seem that way at the time.  We have to have faith.  Faith is blind trust.  Faith is a muscle.  Just like the muscles in our body need work to build and stay strong, faith takes practice in order to be strong.  Start small.  Put your faith in small things, then when that becomes comfortable, move on to the bigger things.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  It will all make sense later.  You don’t have to know everything now.  In fact, it is totally futile to try because there is no possible way to.  You actually don’t have much control over anything, so just let go, surrender and trust God.  Every experience that we go through is ABSOLUTELY necessary in order to get to the next place on our journey.  It is ALL in perfect harmony with the Plan that God has for us.  Let your life unfold the way it’s supposed to without getting in the way.   It will only delay the inevitable.  Life is like going up a ladder.  We can’t start on the top because if we try, we will fall all the way down.  We need to take each step at a time to get to the top.  We need the lay the groundwork, have a strong foundation to build from, otherwise we will fall all the way down and have to start all over again.  If that’s necessary, then so be it.  We will hopefully learn.  Never settle for less than what you know in your heart to be true.  Let go of what isn’t working to make room for what will, trusting that it will come in the perfect time and it will all make sense.  Be the miracle you want to see in your life and you will see them everywhere.
If fear and control are in your way and you don't know how to move past them, please contact me and We can work together to  create an amazing life you only dreamed was possible.  My phone number is (805)279-4686.

I would love to hear your comments on what has been helpful in increasing your faith or how you would like to increase your faith.  


Thursday, November 5, 2015


Right now, we know everything. 
We are free in the moment. 
All is revealed now. 
Truly, it is all we have.   
There are no yesterdays and tomorrow is but a thought that may or may not happen the way we wish. 
Birds just sing their song… loud, melodic and strong. 
The source is always in the moment. 
Acceptance of the moment is the only way to move forward…is the only way to have a foundation of truth. 
Without truth, there exists nothing. 
Truth and love, the center of all being. 
Perfection is here already, within us and all around us. 
We are one in the now. 
Accept what you feel now. 
Accept what you are doing now. 
Accept the flowers in your life. 
Accept the rough current in your life. 
Accept the valley. 
Accept the peak…stand on top of the mountain – Wow, what a clear view! 
Accept your attachments, your wrongs, 
Accept the dove, the eagle, the vulture, 
Accept summer, winter, spring and fall. 
Accept the need to wait. 
Accept the need to take action. 
Accept the flow of the waterfall. 
Accept pain. 
Accept joy. 
Accept listening.  Listen and you will learn. 
Accept black, green, gray and red: 
A red rose, the black of night, the gray of rain, the beautiful green meadow laden with brilliant flowers. 
Stillness of a glass lake… the rushing of a white, clear, rocky river. 
Accept two lovers holding hands, 
A beautiful beach at sunset on the sand. 
Accept love and light, 
Letting go and holding on tight. 
Accept the peace of quiet, the whispering willows. 
The melody of an orchestra. 
A bird singing, 
A child laughing, 
A friend’s voice on the phone, 
A massage, 
Warm water on your body, 
A touch, 
A puppy’s fur, 
Walking barefoot in the grass. 
By Jill Dawn Schwartz

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pain is Inevitable but Suffering is Optional

We all want to be free from emotional pain and suffering, and unfortunately most of us will do anything to prevent pain from occurring in our lives.  These distractions can tend to turn into addictions.  Anything taken to the extreme isn’t good for us.  For whatever reason, our society rejects pain as being a necessary part of life.  How dare we say we aren’t doing well when someone asks us.  Authenticity is looked down upon.  Some spiritual practices tell us to move into our pain, to be in the moment.  This is the way we learn about ourselves and the only way we can be free.  We learn what is working in our lives and what isn’t, who is good for us and who isn’t, actions that need to be taken, boundaries that need to be set, etc.   When we don’t dive into the pain, we live with an underlying chronic discomfort, restlessness and anxiety.  It gets repressed, and eventually we get depressed. We lose our peace, our joy.   Pain is a natural part of life.  The deeper we can be with and feel our pain, the deeper our capacity will be to feel joy. 

Pain has many causes:  Losing someone we love whether it be through a breakup, death, moving away, a divorce, or the disappointment when our expectations aren't met, when we lose a job or move out of our parent’s house.  Any life transition, whether it’s positive or negative brings grief, whether we are aware of it or not.   When we don’t feel the necessary feelings and grief, they don’t just go away.  They stay stuck in our bodies, drain our energy and eventually will make us physically sick.  Ironically, by being present to ourselves and our lives, we move through the pain faster.  Most people think the opposite, that if we repress or avoid our pain, it will go away.  That is what actually leads to suffering, which is long term pain.  In life, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.  I love this saying because it reminds me what is true.  We have a choice to suffer.  How powerful!  If only we actually lived this truth, our lives would be so much more joyful.  Feeling our feelings is a sign of self love.  When we love ourselves enough to feel our feelings, whatever they are moment by moment, we will learn lessons quicker, experience more joy, peace and love, decrease fear and anxiety, and most of all, trust that our lives are unfolding for the highest good.  We actually have the opportunity to LIVE our lives and be free.  This is all easier said than done.  It takes work, discipline, commitment and intention.  My collaborative psychotherapy services are designed to educate and empower you to take back your life and start to enjoy these amazing benefits.  Contact me anytime at (805)279-4686 for a free consultation.

I welcome your comments and experiences about pain and suffering.

Peace and Blessings,