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After creating this need-satisfying environment and working hard to maintain it throughout the relationship, the helper can move on to the actual problem.
Hear the person’s story
The helper needs to determine what the ideal solution. And what would it look like from the other person’s point of view.
For example, if the person were complaining about a fight he have with his girlfriend. Ask the question, “What do you want to happen? How do you want this to work out?”
It is critical to get a specific picture of what the ideal solution will look like from the perspective of the person experiencing the problem. The helper is leading him or her away from the problem and into a problem-solution mode.
In this way, the focus is off the past and the problem, which cannot be changed. The focus instead is on the behavior the person can create to move himself in the direction of the solution he wants.
Inventory of ‘things’
The next step is to take an inventory of things the person is doing to attempt to get the situation to work out the way he wants. The helper asks the person to list the steps he is taking to move closer to his or her goal.
Typically, the person will only list positive things. But the helper needs to ask them to consider everything he is doing. Something he do that is both helping and hindering his or her progress.
It is even acceptable for the helper to add in some observations of his or her own. The point is to get as complete a picture as possible. In addition to considering one’s outward behavior, ask about their thoughts, feelings and physiology (if appropriate), as well.