Staying Solution Focused

By Tiffany Cloud-Mann, M.Ed.

In times of crisis or changes in care needs, it’s very easy to get distracted from the decision at hand and put your focus or lack thereof on everything else. I see this dilemma as well when we are attempting to come to terms with a new diagnosis. We naturally need time to process the news, but then need a type of spring board to get us into goal setting of sorts—a place where we can identify short and long-term objectives. In a previous job I would train support group facilitators of dementia caregiver support groups to try their best to stay solution focused when facilitating a support group. It was okay and normal for people to come to the group with items to gripe about or venting that needed to occur, but we encouraged them that once the person was validated in their feelings and thoughts, to then turn to brainstorming solutions.

Magic Wand Solutions

I love asking, “If I were to wave a magic wand and everything was how you wanted it to be, what would that look like”? This helps those who can’t see a solution to provide the person asking the question with some insight into possible solutions. I also like to ask, “what has worked in the past in similar situations” and “what is working now”? It’s very hard when the fog of fear, frustration, sadness and any thing else mind clogging can make it almost impossible to see any of sunlight on the horizon. Have you ever known a “but person”? It’s okay to laugh, it’s a real thing. “But people” are those that we offer solutions to, and they come back with “but, it won’t work” or “but, I have tried that before” or “but, you just don’t understand”. “But people” aren’t bad people, they are just the many of us that may feel misunderstood or not understood at all. They may feel like you aren’t really getting how they are feeling or what they are thinking, and maybe you aren’t.

The Importance of Validation

Validating = I feel heard and understood

We all want to feel validated, like we are heard and understood, and we tend to let people know they have not succeeded in this task by delivering our sentence after the solution stated with a “but”. The listener should then go back, listen again and once they fully understand the person, they can clarify and paraphrase back what they heard for added confirmation. Then, and only then, should the listener restate a solution and I would be curious if it were different from the first. Staying solution focused can be hard, both for the listener and the sometimes for the divulger of feelings and thoughts. Solutions may change as needs change and what once was a solution may not be now, and that’s okay. I think the bigger picture of all of this is to set goals, both short and long-term goals. Heck, these are good for all of us.

With suffering and crisis, you are either in it, behind it or in front of it.

Care Managers are great at goal setting, it’s in our DNA. Our jobs are made easier by listening for possible solutions when discussing situations with our clients. We are solutions focused experts and can move at whatever pace is needed to form short and long-term objections.

Schedule a care planning session with us today—being in crisis mode is not a requirement. ?


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