Hello beautiful souls! We’re excited to have Elliott Connie on the podcast as we delve into the transformative world of solution-focused therapy, centered around his book, The Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Diamond. Together, we discuss the mechanics of a solution-focused therapy session and how creating a mind shift in discussing past issues can help one envision a positive future. Elliott shares a fresh perspective, leaving us with a powerful reminder: your brain may lie, but you are extraordinary.
To learn more about Elliott Connie and his work:
His book The Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Diamond is available at all major book retailers|
Elliott Connie’s other books are also available through his website
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Julie Jancius (01:45): Hello, beautiful souls. Welcome back to the Angels and Awakening podcast. I’m your host and author, Julie Jancius and friends, today we have Elliott Connie on the podcast to talk about his book, the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Diamond. It’s a new approach to SFBT that will empower both practitioner and client to achieve the best outcomes. Elliott, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.
Elliott Connie: Thank you so much for having me.
Julie Jancius (02:16): Yes. So I want to start out here because I know that there is just so much that our listeners are going to gain from this conversation today. Solution Focused Brief Therapy, you say, is a therapeutic approach that focuses on the client’s hope for the future instead of their ongoing problems. This is different from anything else that I’ve even seen when it comes to therapy. How does this help? How did you even find this? I want to know everything.
Elliott Connie (02:51): Yeah, so I guess I’ll start with how I found it. I’ll take you back to the beginning. Solution Focused Brief Therapy has been around since the late seventy s and I was in graduate school in the early two thousand s and really just wanted to learn how to help people and how to do therapy in an effective way. Sadly, I don’t feel like graduate school teaches you that. Graduate school teaches you about theory, it teaches you about history of things and it teaches you techniques. And I come from a real, I mean, there’s some really difficult things in my childhood associated with an abusive father and anger in my home and feeling unsafe and all those things. And I remember being really disappointed that I wasn’t learning how to do therapy. I was just learning about all these theories. And, most of them, if not all of them, were problem focused. And I couldn’t imagine sitting in an office for an hour talking to someone about the worst parts of my childhood and not being affected negatively. And consequence of that, I also couldn’t imagine putting other people in that position where they had to talk about their most difficult moments and experiences negatively. So it was a struggle, for me. It was a massive struggle, for me.
(04:19) And then one day, man, I was reading this book, and it was the kind of book that had a whole bunch of theories in it. And one small part of that book really resonated with me. And it was the first time I was introduced to this thing called solution focused frief therapy. And it’s a kind of therapy that’s about the outcomes the client has for the outcomes the client wants to achieve in their life and the hope they have for their future. And it just made complete and total sense to me. And I knew this is the way I wanted to work, this was how I wanted to talk to people, this is how I wanted to base my work. And I have not really turned back.
Julie Jancius (05:01): It’s amazing. Okay, so I want to break this down even more for people, because I’ve been going to a counselor off and on my entire life since my parents went through a divorce. And I was young, and I remember not knowing how to do therapy. But when you’re young, you don’t understand what it is that you’re even thinking retrospect. Nobody comes in and says how to do therapy, and so many of them are really focused on talking about your issues, or what had happened. When it’s different and it is this new way of focusing on hope and your future, what does that actually look like when you’re in the session?
Elliott Connie (05:47): Well, it looks like me asking you about it. Most people come to therapy prepared to be asked, ah, what brings you into therapy? And then you talk about your problem. I’m depressed, I’m anxious. Using your example, you just gave, my parents went through a divorce, so on and so on. That’s not necessarily– trying to think how to word this. That’s not what we do when we use solution focused brief therapy. And that’s not necessarily the most helpful and efficient way of going about it. What we ask our clients when we first meet them is, what outcome are you hoping to achieve from being in therapy? And by asking that question, we start talking immediately about hopes for futures, as opposed to the problem.
(06:32) And the power of talking about a hope for future is inspiration happens, motivation happens, change happens. In a lot of ways. If I went to a therapist, and they said, what brings you here? And I said, well, my dad was really abusive, and I’m super sad and I’m super depressed and I’m super anxious. There’s no real way to solve that. But if you ask me what am I hoping to achieve? And I said, well, in spite of my problems, I still want to be a good husband, father, leader, whatever. Then we have conversations about that. And change needs to always be the focus. And we have this weird belief that in order to change, I have to unpack a problem. But that is fundamentally flawed thinking. That is not true.
Julie Jancius: Why is it not true?
Elliott Connie: If you think about it, it’s just.
Julie Jancius (07:24): And I agree with you, I am so on board. I just want to open this up because this is what the angels show me all the time, is that you have to stay focused on this hope and on this future. I just want to dig in.
Elliott Connie (07:39): Yeah. Because we know the best way to overcome obstacles is to focus on the thing that you’re trying to achieve. And if I give you an example that is not in the field of psychotherapy, it makes more sense. But like, if you go see a dentist and the dentist says– and let’s say you’re just going for a cleaning, and the dentist kind of assesses your teeth, and before they clean your teeth, they say, I’m happy to clean your teeth, but before I do, can you please tell me how they got so dirty? That information does not help the dentist one bit. Or if I go see a personal trainer and the personal trainer says, I’m happy to help you get into shape, before I do, can we please have a conversation about how you got out of shape? Doesn’t make any sense. Telling the personal trainer how I got out of shape does not help them become a better personal trainer. And the same thing is true in therapy. Like if a couple comes to me– and we do this often in our profession if a couple comes to me and they say, we’d love to work on a marriage, and the therapist will say, sure, I’m happy to help you, but let’s have a conversation about how it got off track. That information doesn’t help them, but somehow we have convinced ourselves that it does. And we engage people in these conversations that actually are not useful.
Julie Jancius (08:56): well, and this is what you learn when you’re entrepreneur and you’re working with a lot of other CEOs, presidents of companies, is they’re always strictly focused on the really big mission in front of them, the very big goal in front of them, and they get very focused in order to accomplish that. And as they really focus and laser in on what it is and where they want to go, everything else just kind of falls by the wayside. And really, I tune into energy constantly. And it feels when I’m talking to these presidents and CEOs, like, their energy is so distracted when they’re just focused on everything. But as soon as they laser focus in, they’ve got 99, 100% of their energy behind them going after that one thing. That’s where the magic starts to happen.
Elliott Connie (09:50): Absolutely. true. Like, people that are successful and as you said, like, leaders of industry and CEO, they have this unique ability to be laser focused on their big picture outcome. And when you are that way, you can handle obstacles in a very different way. When you are that focused, your resilience goes up. Like, when you are that focused, you somehow become, like, a better version and stronger version of yourself. And I think what solution focused brief therapy does is activate that in people.
Julie Jancius (10:25): Yeah. Okay, so you’re around a lot of other healers within the industry, too. Not just counselors and therapists. Obviously, healers and therapists are different, two different certifications. Obviously, you guys go through so much more, and yet within the healing industry, there’s a lot of focus right now on inner child work, ancestral trauma work. We’ve talked about this on the podcast. Is this the healer sect, the spiritual sect’s way of focusing in on problem based therapies instead of hope and future solutions?
Elliott Connie (11:06): Yeah, I think inner child work and ancestral work– Look, I’m an African American, and my ancestors mean a lot to me. The people who come before me have made a lot of sacrifices so that I can be in the position that I’m in now. If you ask me questions like, what are you doing that would give you the idea that your ancestors are looking at you and are proud of you, that’s an amazing conversation. As opposed to just talking about the wounds of my ancestors and my ancestral trauma, talking to me about what I’m doing now that makes my ancestors proud of me. That is such an uplifting, wonderful conversation, and that’s how we need to have those conversations. From a solution focused perspective. I think sometimes we think about inner child work and this ancestral trauma work. Like, we got to go and dredge up these things, and that’s just not true. That’s not a realistic aim. I think you could say to me in a really difficult moment, Elliott, if you woke up tomorrow and you handled this moment in a way that made your grandmother proud of you, I would instantly have a different perspective on what I’m going through. And I think that’s how we need to talk to people.
Julie Jancius (12:30): Yeah. that really hits deep when it comes to this work, too. There are so many people who say that you have to really be in the present moment 24/7. And I’ve really struggled with this because this is not the message of the angels. When they do work with a lot of people, they’re really focused on that hope and that future and really lasering focusing in on that to bring it to you. How much, obviously you need to be in the present moment to understand where you’re at, how you’re navigating life, your direction, and you know, I’m watching on Netflix that quarterback show.
Elliott Connie: Yeah, I actually just watched you.
Julie Jancius: Did you get to the part yet where, the one quarterback has the neurofeedback, helmet that he puts on and he’s watching a TV show on his phone. And every single time that he comes out of the present moment, because he has to be so laser focused on the present moment in the game, he’s teaching his brain how to constantly stay in the present moment, which is just fascinating. How much do we need to be in the present moment and have we made it bad? Do we need to give ourselves permission again to dream and have that hope of our future?
Elliott Connie (13:50): I think we have to do both. I think we have to be in the present moment. I think we have to be in the future and we have to be in the past. But the question is, how do we do that? If I remember my past as this very difficult childhood, that’s going to impact my present in a very specific and particular way. But if I remember my past as a difficult childhood that I survived through, that’s going to impact my present moment in another way, like I’m going to experience in my real present moment. I’m proud of myself and I feel good about myself. And if I think about my difficult childhood, I’m going to feel bad about myself. I’m going to feel like I was unlucky and I wish I was born in a different environment. But if I think about it as like, man, I got through that. I’m strong and I’m resilient, and my past is evidence of that strength and that resilience, then that impacts my present moment right now. And we also have to be able to dream. We have to be able to say, like, what I really want my future to look like is this, and how we dream and think about our future impacts our present moment.
Elliott Connie (16:03): I remember when I was in high school, I had this dream of being a college athlete, and I really held on to that dream. So when my friends came to me and asked me to do stupid things. Like, I remember one day, a friend of mine found where his father hid his alcohol, and he had wine coolers called Bartles and Jaymes. I don’t know if you guys are old enough to remember Bartles and Jaymes, but a buddy of mine found where his dad had hidden his alcohol, and he came to school and he was like, hey, after school, we’re all going to go to this house, and we’re all going to go back to my house. We’re going to drink this alcohol. And I remember saying, no, I’m not going to do that. And the reason I said that, it wasn’t because I was a better kid, it wasn’t because I made great decisions or any of that. It was because I had such a strong belief in my hope for the future that it impacted how I made decisions in the current moment. And without dreams of the future, we don’t make wonderful decisions in the current moment.
Julie Jancius (17:04): Do you think that there are some people who have been so hurt that it’s hard for them to hope and dream? What shuts people down from hoping and dreaming?
Elliott Connie (17:16): Well, the short answer to your question is yes. I think there have been people that have been so hurt by life, that they just don’t believe that it’s in the cards for them. I think what shuts people down the most is other people. We as humans, we have a very bad habit, and almost all of us do it. When someone you love or care about tells you about something they want to accomplish, we think we have a duty to protect that person from disappointment. So someone will say something like, I want to become an astronaut. And we think, Gosh, that’s really hard to do. Can you set your sights a little lower? Or we remind them, not everybody becomes an astronaut. The chances of you becoming an astronaut are this big. We say these things, and a lot of people get frustrated and they get discouraged, and they stop sharing their dreams and they stop believing in themselves. Because we’re not really an encouraging species, right? That’s not how we are. There’s actually research about this that when you tell someone about something you dream to accomplish, the most likely response you get is a response of discouragement. And not because we want to discourage you, but we think I’m protecting you from being disappointed.
(18:38) So most people aren’t really engaged with their dreams because the world has told them, you sound arrogant when you say that, and you sound bold when you say that. And so few people accomplish that thing that you want to accomplish. So let’s kind of set the goal smaller. But what we really do is we need to do the exact opposite. Trust that people can handle being disappointed. We need to trust that people can get through hard things. We need to trust that anyone can accomplish anything and talk to people as if they can do the thing that they’re trying to accomplish. And to me, that’s how life should be lived.
Julie Jancius (19:14): Yeah. When it comes to our own inner dialogue right. And how we talk negatively to ourselves, because we’re also our own discouragers sometimes. Is it really as simple in what you found in your experiences to just simply talk back to that voice within your mind, or do you have other tips and tools that you use for that?
Elliott Connie: Yeah, I just remember that I can do anything because my evidence of that is I’ve gotten through some really hard things in my life. So I just remind myself that if I have a goal, of course I can accomplish it. Why couldn’t I accomplish it? And now it’s not really a matter of countering the negative belief. It’s a matter of not even having the negative belief because you’ve trained your brain just to believe in the power of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Julie Jancius (20:02): Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about individuals, but you also work a lot with couples, and you have a book out for couples as well. And what I see a lot of times with couples is that they do exactly what we’re talking about, where one has a dream, one shuts down the dream, or maybe tapers down the dream a little bit. How do you get a couple on the same page, manifesting in the same direction?
Elliott Connie (20:29): Wow, that’s a really good question. And to be honest with you, the answer is individual to each couple. But to go a bit deeper than that is to remind them that part of your job is to believe in your partner’s dreams. And I think people forget that. Like, going back to what I said earlier, I think we get scared and we get nervous. I was watching a movie that I’ve seen a bunch of times recently called, The Pursuit of Happyness. And there’s a scene in that movie where the main character, played by Will Smith, says, I want to become a stockbroker. And his wife was like, Why would you do that? And she becomes very discouraging. And I remind couples that part of your job is to believe in who your partner is trying to become.
Julie Jancius (21:17): Absolutely. That’s beautiful. All right, so one of the questions and I actually wrote about this a little bit in my book, but I’d love to hear your opinion on it. Not all counselors are made the same. Not all counselors are helpful. I wrote in my book about interviewing your counselor to help you figure out– is there a way for people to find solution focused therapists? Is there, like, a database is there a resource? And how do you know that, hey, even if I’m going to this person and they’re driving me towards my hope and my future, that they’re the right one for you to work with.
Elliott Connie (21:56): So, yes, there is a database. My company created it. So you can go online, and find a solution focused therapist, because I actually don’t remember the domain, but if you go to my website, Ellieconny.com, you can find it or, Thesfu.com, which is the name of my company. But I think the second part of your question is actually even more important. you can find database online, and you can do a search on if people use a particular type of therapy, including solution focused, brief therapy. But I think the second part of your question matters a lot, which is, how do you know you’re talking to the right person? And I often compare this to dating. Like, how do you know that you’re on a date with someone that will lead to a positive relationship? And that’s kind of an intrinsic answer. Like, do I enjoy being around this person? Do I feel safe talking to this person? Do I feel like this person is valuing what I’m saying? Do I feel like this person is listening to me? I think all of those things are questions you have to ask yourself during the first session when you’re meeting with a therapist. Like, is this someone that I can talk to? If the answer is yes, keep talking. There is no, Like, you can tell when if the therapist is wearing red, they’re a good therapist. Or if they have glasses on, there is no black and white thing. But if you feel comfortable talking to that person and feel connected to them, you feel like they’re listening and you could share with them and safely do so, then I think you might be in good hands.
Julie Jancius (23:27): I love that. And how does a person know? Because we kind of just do therapy. Right. And my husband and I have a standard appointment on the books once a month with our counselor. I have a separate counselor that I go to see. Kiddo’s got a counselor. How do you know when you’re 100%? Because sometimes you have those needs where, hey, I need to be seeing you once a week, or if not twice a week. And sometimes you don’t really need that, but it’s almost like getting a tune up on your car just to have a standing appointment. Is there 100% healed? Is there 99% healed? How do you know where you’re at?
Elliott Connie (24:12): No, I think we’re all a work in progress and life keeps happening. So I don’t know that there’s such a thing as 100% healed, but I think there is such a thing as transformed. I think there is such a thing as being able to overcome those things that are obstacles and challenges, and you’re able to be the version of yourself that you want to be? I think there is absolutely a such thing as that. And to me, I think that’s actually the goal, is to be the version of yourself that you want to be and are most proud of. I think the biggest thing you need to ask yourself if you’re seeing a therapist is like, is change happening? And if the answer is yes, then keep doing what you’re doing. And then you need to ask yourself, do I need to continue to see this person in order for change to continue happening? Then you should ask yourself, how often do I need to see this person in order for change to continue happening? Even as you say, it’s good to bring your car to the mechanic once every 90 days or whatever, but I don’t have to go see my mechanic every day or every week. How much contact with the therapist would lead to the appropriate and desired level of transformation? I think that’s the question to ask ourselves.
Julie Jancius (25:35): Perfect. I love that. Is change happening? I’m going to remember that.
Elliott Connie: Is change happening?
Julie Jancius (24:45): Yeah. Okay. So we’ve been through three and a half years post COVID when you look at the lay of the land and just where humanity is right now, where are we and where do you want to see us go over the next 10, 15 years?
Elliott Connie: I don’t know where we are, actually, because we’ve never been here before.
Julie Jancius: Yeah.
Elliott Connie (26:10): I think we’ve never gone through a pandemic. We’ve never had the political landscape that we have currently. The world has never been as communicative as it is right now through things like social media. Now we have AI. I was thinking about this recently. I don’t know how to say where we are because we’ve never been in this space before. But I can say where I hope we’re going is I hope that there’s more kindness and humanity in our future. I hope we can remember that. I can disagree with you without hating you. I hope that we can remember that I can disagree with you without accusation. I hope that we can remember that we don’t all have to think alike in order to be great as a society and a culture. I hope that we can remember that what makes us different is inherently what makes us beautiful. I hope that we can remember that kindness is such a more beautiful way to live than hatred. And, I think to a large degree, we’ve forgotten all those things. And I hope in our future we can remember them.
Julie Jancius (27:20): How do we get back to that? One of the things that I find myself struggling with right now is, I don’t know that I was allowed to have opinions when I was younger. And obviously I speak a lot for a living. I speak a lot on the podcast and I teach a lot. But in my personal life, when I have a conversation with somebody and I have opinions or I want to say something or, hey, maybe that hurt my feelings, I don’t know exactly how to say that, and it doesn’t feel comfortable. But one of the things that I’ve been playing with is the relationship can’t further along, and that person can’t truly know who I am unless I open up more and share how I’m feeling about something or how something maybe hit me. It’s very hard, though. It’s very hard for me to kind of– I wonder if that’s everybody. Is that just me? How do you work through that?
Elliott Connie (28:28): And I think what we have to do is just accept that it’s going to be uncomfortable, and we have to put down our expectation of comfort, because we’re going to have to do uncomfortable things. Like, we’re going to have to stand up for truth, and we’re going to have to speak up for kindness, and we’re going to have to say things in spaces where we’re not used to saying things. Silence is the easiest thing in the world, but silence always favors the oppressor. So if we’re going to create change, we have to accept that there’s going to be uncomfort along that pathway, and we have to no longer expect comfort if we want to expect change.
Julie Jancius: Perfect. Yeah. So just when you’re in that conversation, it’s hard, but say the thing anyway.
Elliott Connie: Say the thing anyway. Ah.
Julie Jancius (29:22): Okay. I, love it. What else do you want our listeners to know and where can they find you and follow you?
Elliott Connie (29:30): I want the listeners to know if there’s one thing I want people to know, it’s that your brain lies to you. You are so extraordinary, and you don’t even know it. And the reason you don’t know it is because your brain does this really funky thing, which is anything you do, your brain thinks it’s not extraordinary because you could do it. So I want everybody to believe in their own extraordinary abilities, because your brain tries to tell you anything you can do is normal, but you are actually achieving amazingly extraordinary things on a daily basis.
(30:05) And where people can find me, you can find me on social media at Elliott Speaks. Make sure you spell my name with two L’s and two T’s you can find on my website. Elliottconnie.com again. Two L’s and two T’s. And I would love for people to stay connected with me and show love.
Julie Jancius (30:26): Yeah. And then we’ll put the links to your two books below, the one, on marriage that we talked about and Solutions Focused Therapy. That’s perfect. Thank you so much, Elliot, for being with you. Thank you so much for being you and all the love that you bring into this world. I think that you’re changing just the lives of millions of people. So thank you for all that you do.
Elliott Connie: No. Problem. Thanks for having me, man. Thanks so much.
Julie Jancius: Of course. Have a blessed day.