How the Miracle Question Can Get You a Miracle

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Miracles are all around us.

"The Miracle Question" is an intervention used in Solution Focused Brief Therapy, which can lead to all kinds of realizations and unanticipated changes in people's lives. This article will review a few basics about Solution Focused Brief Therapy and share with you how you can use "the Miracle Question" in your life, even without the help of a therapist.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT is a form of psychotherapy that developed in the late 1970's and 1980's by Insoo Kim Berg and Steve deShazer.

SFBT is different from many types of psychotherapy in that it is not based on any theory, unlike more traditional approaches in psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Psychodynamic Therapy. SFBT uses the power of words and conversations to create changes in people's lives. It is a type of constructive therapy, which means that it is built upon the belief that we create our own realities, as opposed to other viewpoints which believe that we do not have as much of a say in our own lives, but rather discover our realities that are already in existence. 

Change is viewed as an integral part of life, but whether we change for the better or for the worse is up to us. Conversation is the tool to create change, and the Miracle Question is one of such tools.

What is the point of Miracle Question?

The Miracle Question is a bit odd, and would definitely not have been uttered by Sigmund Freud or most of his followers.

However, it can be extremely powerful in shifting someone's focus away from what is going poorly in their lives to how things can be better.

When so much of one's energy is focused on what is going wrong, it can feel impossible to imagine how things could possibly be going right. The Miracle Question gives someone the kick in the pants that may be needed to open up to other possibilities.

 

What is the Miracle Question?

Following is one version of the Miracle Question, which, like SFBT, can seem deceptively simple, but actually takes some skill for the therapist to pull off effectively. Read it slowly and see how you might answer this question for yourself:

"I have a very strange question for you, and it will require your imagination to answer. Suppose that after you go to sleep tonight, a miracle occurs. And let's say the miracle that happens causes all the problems that you came in here for to go away. But, since the miracle happened while you were asleep, you have no way of knowing it happened...

What, then, do you suppose will be the first small signs that you will notice in the morning that will tell you that a miracle occurred?"

The Miracle Answer

Many people struggle to answer the question right off the bat because it can feel a little jarring. A true Solution Focused Therapist will wait for the answer, and it will come. 

Questions to ask yourself to get your answers flowing include: 

  • How will you feel differently?
  • How will you think differently?
  • How will you behave differently?
  • How will important others in your lives see you differently?

The answers to these questions and similar ones are the milestones you are looking to achieve, and the goals you can be striving for. The take home message here is to focus less on whatever the problem might be and be open for your solutions. Allow yourself to receive them, and the miracles will come.

"If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there." - Yogi Berra

Sources

Molnar, A. & deShazer, S. (1987). Solution-Focused Therarpy: Toward the identification of therapeutic tasks. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 13(4) 349-358.

Dolan, Y. & deShazer, S. (2007). More than miracles: The state of the art of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.

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