By Jim Dunn, MS

I am inspired to share a fictional representation of a composite case example based on a recent practice exercise I that I tried. I spoke a person, who I will name Jeff. He had seen several therapists in the past and tried several different approaches, but continued to struggle with depressive symptoms.

The exercise I practiced was about exceptions/positive differences and finding resources that reside within clients. I asked him how he has been able to cope with the depression. He had a pause and said that he never thought about that before. He said that his children and his wife have been a source of strength for him. In addition, his faith has helped him. I also asked a scaling question regarding how he was coping with his depression right now. He chose a five on a scale of one to ten. I asked him what kept the number from being lower and he talked about the support from his family. When I asked what else kept it from being lower, he said he was able to get up and get to work, and get through the day.

When I asked him how well he thought his wife would say he is coping, he said probably a 6. I explored what he thought was the difference between his and his wife’s number and he commented on how he was able to support her as well, despite the challenges he was having. I asked him how he would discover what would make it go up one point. I was very surprised because he came up with many different ideas. His candor really surprised me because this client is often very hesitant and introverted. I have found he often is challenged with dealing with emotional questions.

I asked him what he thought about the exercise and he stated that he had never thought about his resiliency with respect to his depression. Nor had he come up with goals that he felt personally tied to. I realize this is a microcosm of the overall therapeutic process. However, this was monumental for him. He said the process was helpful, non-judgmental and congruent with respect to his needs. I am looking forward to more surprises and continuing to practice and hone my solution focused skills.