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New Interventions to Help Clients in Lockdown: Solution-Focused SMS Therapy

As Covid-19 has affected countries around the world and we see rising divorce rates, abuse, violence and the effects of long-term lockdown, we need a variety of ways to help people.

During our SYPRENE , Dr. A. Biba Rebolj introduced us to a pilot project called SF (Solution Focused) texting , which aims to offer help to professionals in charge of Covid-19, helplines and customers. who are in distress and who cannot or do not want to access talk or telephone therapy.


“I have been working online with patients for 4 years. I take it you're familiar with solution-focused brief therapy? Well, that's how we work with our clients, from the perspective of hope and resources, not fear. It's very complicated of course in our context because the virus is still there and the barrier measures repeated throughout the day are there to remind us.

Here are some examples of questions we ask our customers in this context:

"We are all advised to avoid crowded places; do you know in any way if having to avoid crowds may have helped you?" "What difference would you notice?"

We make them focus on their ideal future, for example with this question: "In this period when we cannot go to frequented places, what would allow you to say that you are doing things that fear prevented you from doing?

We also ask them questions about the progress they can make : "What are the signs that would tell you that you are using this period of crisis in the right way?"


We have to adapt our services because patients can no longer come to us.

Another angle of attack: the assumption that they will adapt as well as possible and questions about their ideal future : "What would allow you

to say that your organization is adapting as well as possible and what would people see as best possible in this situation?

Adaptation to teleworking: we ask them about the elements of success, what is already working, the quality and stability of the internet connection and we follow up with another useful question: "What practical and connection-related innovations give you hope ?"

"What are the signs that will show you that your adaptations are producing positive things in the long term?" "Never waste a good crisis".

On financial difficulties: "What are your greatest hopes for managing your finances in this difficult time? Obviously it's very difficult to answer that. So, we can say: "What did you take from yourself, your family, your neighbors who tell you that you are managing your finances well?" We use the scale of 0 to 10. "If you were satisfied, where would you rank on this scale?" never answers 0. "What did you put in place to achieve this result?".

We don't ask a lot of things from the client in relation to the objectives achieved or in relation to the resources because they don't have any. We prefer to ask them questions about the efforts and there, they always answer: "And this effort, what is it telling us about you?"

“Before confinement, what did you imagine of the situation?”. And more often than not, they realize that it has been easier to manage than they imagined.


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Text therapy

Web consultation can be difficult because there is a loss of privacy. In my organization, we have been working on this for a year. With texting, everything is done through written dialogue. We devised this technique by noting that many young people had no desire to come and see us in the office. We have seen that this works very well with young people.

This technique takes much longer. The person tells us for example: “I am in a very difficult situation, I am losing control, I no longer have any private life”.

1st question we ask: "What would allow you to say that this chat was useful for you?"
Answer "I would be able to better manage our lives and this situation". And what else ? : If the situation changed what would be different and allow you to say that the situation has changed?

We use the scale of 0 to 10, 0 being incapacitated and ask: "Where would you be?"

The client replies: "I would say 5; I suffer from anxiety, I haven't gone out with the children since the start of the confinement, my mother does the shopping and brings them to me, I don't have everything I need. need. I have a lot of diffculties".

What is important for us in his answer is that it is at 5. "What different efforts did you make to get to 5 and how did you manage to get to 5? Answer: "I put set up a routine, I'm not too strict, I don't watch the news (we forget what's going on). In fact, I'm very busy. She works very hard to achieve this.

Different questions: "How did you manage to create this routine, to find a balance between flexibility and requirement and to maintain all this for several weeks?.

When you're face to face, you don't ask so many questions. And in this case, if we don't ask questions about effort, we'll never get those answers.

“Who would notice that you went to 6?

What would he notice about you?

What are the differences for them?

What difference does it make to you seeing them that way?

"I would feel blessed to be with my family and proud to be their mother."

This exchange lasted an hour.

With sms, we have changed the solution-oriented approach a bit:

1. Explore customer expectation

2. Ask about the efforts put in place

3. How did you do?

4. If there were further progress, what would it look like?

5. Who would notice?

With texting, once the question is sent, we're on hold and the customer responds when they're ready. This gives us time to think about the next question. There is no non-verbal; all we have are the customer's words. We go straight to the point.



Keywords: LACT research , Research program

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