“Imagine your alarm clock goes off and when you wake up, a miracle happened and all your problems have disappeared. How would you realize that the problem that brought you to therapy doesn’t exist anymore?” This is how therapy would start when working with the miracle question technique.
This technique is represented by Steve de Shazer, and it’s part of the solution-focused brief therapy. Finding the exceptions in the patient’s life is the aim of this work; that is, finding situations where the problem isn’t present and maximizing them as much as possible.
First of all, solution-focused brief therapies are, as the name suggests, brief; therefore, it’s carried out in approximately 10 sessions. Therapists want their patients to envision how their life would be like if their problem disappeared all of a sudden.
Excessively immersing ourselves in our problems keeps us from paying attention to the positive things that surround us. Occassionally, you might find yourself focusing on your problems instead of seeing the good side of things. With the miracle question technique, therapists aim at making a miracle happen: making people think about how things would be like if they were lucky enough to wake up without their problems.
What keeps you from doing what you want?
“I’d realize my problem was gone if I woke up and didn’t feel pain on my chest. If I could have my breakfast feeling calm, without looking at the clock every 2 minutes, if I were able to wake my children up and tell them how much I love them, if I could simply wake up and feel blessed to have my family and my job and I could forget about stress and just enjoy the moment”.
Only specialized therapists should carry out the miracle question technique; they’ll know how to guide the narrative of the patient and allow them to see the details they’re missing by only focusing on their problem. Thanks to the miracle question technique, you can see what has changed and what you’ve stopped doing since focusing on the problem.
Self-awareness and imagining what would happen if everything was “okay” gives us an idea of the goals we should pursue. Is there an external factor that keeps you from moving on or are you just stopping yourself? Occassionally, you’re the only one who’s keeping yourself from what you desire. Imagining a better day to day will bring you closer to knowing what you want to achieve!
What to do after the miracle question technique
Knowing the problem and realizing its consequences is not enough; after realizing the changes this problem has brought to your life, you’ve got to act. There’s a technique inside the solution-focused brief therapy, called “the butterfly effect“. This exercise can help you see that after a small change, more changes will happen, almost in a chained way.
You shouldn’t just imagine what would happen – take control and start putting effort into it. Realizing the role your problem plays in your life might be the hardest part – be ready to take action after covering that first step!
Athough the miracle question technique is a good starting point, there’s still a lot of work to do. After realizing that your problem has prevented you from doing what you want, set the change factors and the objectives you want to achieve.
Now, tell me: what would happen if all those worries that keep you up at night suddenly went away? Ask yourself what changes you could make to improve your life and work on them! Remember: no big change happens overnight.