Section 1. Setting the Framework

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(0:001:14). In this single session consultation interview, there are many significant decision points, as there are in all influential conversations. In training and supervising therapists, I am fascinated by their choices about what is relevant to pursue, and in what direction does the discourse flow to create the potential for new realities, new ways out of the forest of problems that our clients often present.

In this interview, all I know, as is usual from the setting of the first appointment in private practice and consultation, is that “Kim” wants to see me for problems of unhappy feelings about her current life situation. I know that her first lead will be to tell me about her woe, so my first intervention in this conversation is to utilize our mutual observations of this autumn day in the setting of our first meeting, so that I can contextualize it as a moment to “hear the patterns of rain beating down on the roof” (the first externalization of the problem). Then Kim is invited to withdraw inward to feel the warmth of the imagined fireplace, (self-soothing and re-orienting) and then perhaps to lazily play with “pieces of a jigsaw puzzle” (her own internal resources) until a picture emerges (potential workable solutions). All of this sequence is the setting of a context or framework by the therapist in advance of the first frames of a narrative of helpless-trapped-ism by the client. The stage has been set for the unfolding drama of our subsequent interaction. Hopelessness has been shifted to a solution-focus in moments by the use of a congruent metaphor of mutual experience. This is a subtle shift point in our discourse within moments of our first encounter with each other. In Judo we say that “small circles turn big circles” and thus it is that the smallest moments of shifting in posture in our approach that we render complaining into a bias toward resolution toward solution. From what I can see there is no unusual reaction in my client to this contextual resetting, so that perhaps it is subtle enough to be effective.

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