Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

Fifty Shades of Therapy - a literary treat

As I was reading volume 2 of the latest literary erotic sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey, I found a particularly arousing passage 79% of the way through.  “SFBT - The latest therapy option,” one character recommends to our heroine.


The therapist himself, Dr John Flynn, is good enough to describe Solution Focused Brief Therapy:  “Essentially, it’s goal-oriented.  We concentrate on where Christian wants to be and how to get him there… There’s no point breast-beating about the past – all that’s been picked over by every physician, psychologist, and psychiatrist Christian’s ever seen….  It’s the future that’s important.  Where Christian envisages himself, where he wants to be.”


I could quote more, but don’t want to break confidentiality, especially as Christian presents a particularly challenging issue, which may explain why Dr Flynn makes rather a hash of the case.  In my opinion, I should stress, as Christian declares himself satisfied and looks forward to his next session.  There’s no mention of any Session Rating Scale, though, so it’s tough to tell to what extent it was demonstrably useful.


I’m actually wondering if this section of the book might be to some extent a fantasy, which could account for the author’s otherwise inexplicably poor grasp of the details of SFBT.  Her therapist, for example, offers problem-saturated diagnosis – “He has a morbid self-abhorrence” – and makes inappropriate comments, for example, from an expert perspective – “I probably know a lot more about you than you think”.


I don’t know it there’s a supervision session coming up in Volume Three of the trilogy, which could sort out some of these issues.  It’s a notion encouraged by our sceptical heroine, who terms him an “expensive charlatan”, admittedly before she meets him – a device with which the author cleverly alerts us to the limited prospect of pre-session change.    


Another possibility is that this is an accurate account of a session with a rogue therapist trading under the good credentials of SFBT or a practitioner blending ideas too freely with other approaches.  If so, it may be worth researching and exposing whichever therapist this is based on and inviting him to the next SOLworld conference (at Keble College, Oxford, in September) where there’s an interesting strand of workshops dealing with the overlapping territory of SF meeting other plausible approaches (Appreciative Inquiry, Action Learning and so forth). We do learn that “Flynn” is British and keen on masked dancing, so he’d undoubtedly enjoy the conference social programme.


Though he would of course need a special invitation, the conference already being fully booked I’m pleased to report.


Ref:  Fifty Shades Darker, by E L James.

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Comment by Christoph Papst on January 12, 2013 at 11:06

There are also interesting aspects in volume 1 and 3! I'm preparing a workshop on "50 SF Shades of Grey" for the "Better Focus - Better Change" conference .... See you there

Comment by Rayya Ghul on July 23, 2012 at 15:01

Please tell me this is a joke.


Comment by Eileen McCabe on July 6, 2012 at 18:05

Delighted to hear the conference is booked up and to see that the word is spreading through Solworld that SF has hit popular fiction! Following the London SF meeting on Wednesday at which this was discussed (yes it is that much fun !!) and a great deal of speculation as to whom she had spoken to, I asked E L James where she had got her SF inspiration/information from and she replied a child psychologist recommended it to her and she then did some research and went on from there...

Sadly it only comes up once in the book (in stark contrast to some other issues) but with the trilogy being a best seller that is global and top of the Kindle charts to boot, the fact that SF is mentioned at all however much out of context is a paradigm shift in its promotion to a wider public - well at least women of a certain age - for which I believe all SFs should/will be grateful !!! Thanks Paul....




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