Simple is often best.
Even the word makes me sigh with relief. But have you noticed that it sometimes takes a whole lot of complication to get there? For example, you read a book or see a painting. Perhaps the painting is composed of a few lines on a white canvass; the book is built around a simple character who takes a walk to the shops. You’re tempted to think: I could do that! And maybe you could.
I applaud you for having that goal, and I am cheering for you every step of the way.
But what many people discover during the process of trying to create something very simple is how very complicated the thinking can get along the way. Just like that old zen saying:
‘First a tree is a tree, then it is no longer a tree, then it is a tree again’.
The long and complicated apprenticeship of sincere practice allows the final destination of simplicity to be reached.
This seems to be the experience of many human service practitioners as well. In the early years of practice a counsellor, psychologist or pastoral carer may try an impressive range of modalities, a complicated mix of questioning styles. But you hear them say in the latter years of their careers, when perhaps they have grown humble and wise, that their practice has settled into a couple of simple things that they always do, or simple questions they always ask.
And here’s the simple truth about any of the card sets created by Innovative Resources for counsellors, therapists, teachers—anyone who wants to help others find ways forward: You can ask the same two simple questions for any of the 60 or so card sets. Doesn’t matter if it is a card set is for talking about feelings, goals, roles, teams, families, or communities. Doesn’t matter if the cards have words on them, or images only.
The two simple questions are:
- Can you pick a card that says something about where you are at?
- Can you pick a card that says something about where you want to be?
Then it’s about getting from here to there. The theory supporting these two simple questions could, and does, fill volumes of solution-focussed, brief therapy text books. But fortunately, in the therapeutic space between practitioner and the person they are working with, the buzz of all that scholarship can fall quiet and these two simple questions can be powerful pathways into change.
By Karen Bedford
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