Solutions Focused Formula – Exception Questions

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Exception Questions

In this segment, we look at exception questions for the goal that the client has set in the previous question in this Solution Focused Formula. The goal is set, the motivation for the goal has been assessed and the desire to achieve the goal has been established. Now we look at accessing their strengths to achieve their goal.

What we’re looking at here is the WHERE and HOW is this goal already happening?

This is an important step because:

  1. It helps identify for the client that they have some existing strengths and resources they can access to help them achieve their goal.
  2. It also helps identify possible solutions or as I like to say “best next step”?

So what is an exception question?

An exception question has the client focus their strengths and past “wins”. The focus on this area rather than the problems that could arise when reaching for the goal. It gives more attention to the strength of the client rather that the problem itself. Problems are like waves that crash to the shore and retreat to the ocean, very few problems are present all the time. In fact most problems aren’t happening at all or is happening to a lesser degree.

Exception Questions

Helping the client notice these scenarios can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by the problem or challenge and can help identify things that they or others are already doing to help solve the problem or challenge.

Here are examples of questions that you could ask that could elicit exceptions to the problem.

If the client is finding it hard to establish a goal and is focused on the problem you can interrupt the negative focus by asking an exceptional question like this:

Tell me about the times when the problem is less troubling or when it’s not happening at all?

  1. Tell me about the times when you’re coping a little better with the problem?
  2. What’s different about the times when better?
  3. When things are better how do you cope?
  4. Tell me what’s worked in the past even if it’s only for a short time?

Remember to ask the detail, “what else? Tell me more,” so that they can begin to construct a detailed picture of when the problem or challenge not as intense or overwhelming.

So, in the next video we will tackle The Miracle Question.

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