If I was a therapist, I think I’d be into solution-focused brief therapy.
OK, yes, that’s a BIG if.
But there’s something really appealing to me, especially the “focus on strengths, and cut straight to the chase” side (which, given my aversion to process, has got to be dominant), about the idea that we don’t necessarily need to understand all of the problem in order to find some ways to make it better.
It makes intuitive sense, too, if you think about it. I mean, there’s a lot in the policy world that is still somewhat mysterious–we can’t, for example, explain everything that relates to the perpetuation of poverty. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t found enough of what works to find some ways to make the problem better.
There’s a part of Switch that discusses the brief solution-focused approach, especially its signature (which even I remember from the one clinical class I took in graduate school): the ‘miracle’ question.
I’m sure that each practitioner has his/her slightly different take on this, but the miracle question goes something like:
“If a miracle happened and the problem was solved, what would be the first small sign you’d see that would make you think, “it’s gone!”?”
And that got me thinking:
What if we started our policy advocacy with this question?
What if, instead of thinking that we have to dissect a problem infinitely, so that we can present detailed evidence to policymakers, other advocates, and the general public (we think we have to convince everyone!) about exactly what the problem is, why it’s a problem, for whom it’s a problem, and how we know it’s a problem…
we instead started with imagining what it would be like if the problem was gone?
What if we could paint a picture for those same policymakers of the first signs of success? Not a utopian vision that no one, including us, really believes is possible, but something tangible and attainable and vivid and still…better?
Because, if I woke up tomorrow and child hunger was better, kids would get breakfast. Every day, in every house, they would get breakfast before they tried to start learning. I know my kids are ROUGH before they’ve had breakfast. And I can’t imagine sending them to school without it. What if we made sure that every kid went home the day before with breakfast for the next morning? Or that every school had breakfast programs, and kids had a way to get there? It wouldn’t mean that kids were never hungry, certainly.
It wouldn’t be Solved, with a capital “S”.
But it would be better.
What about you? What is your answer, to your miracle question? What would be the first sign you’d see that would make you notice and think…better?
And how would starting your advocacy from thinking about miracles maybe make all the difference?