The Solution-Focused Closet

Elliot Connie in his marvelous book, Solution Building in Couples Therapy describes a couple in their mid to late forties who bloomed in just three sessions. The husband reported one way of looking at their lives together that made all the difference.

It had been a long time since the couple had recalled the powerful feelings they once had for one another. Exploring feelings led to an awareness of an inventory of feelings that they could choose from.

The husband wrote Elliot to tell him that… it was like what happens when you open your closet before you go on a trip. Everyone has to move items out of the way, things you hardly ever wear, but will never throw out. These items get very little attention, and we will probably never wear them again.

When we pack for a vacation, we can’t take the whole closet. We sort through what is best. And we leave the rest behind.


Elliot’s clients told him that they came to see that it wasn’t really necessary to take all the bad memories along as they go through time together. But they didn’t have to throw them away either.

They had the cognitive option of simply leaving them hanging undisturbed in the closet of memory.

In Elliot’s work with the couple, they were encouraged to reflect and select the best aspects of their shared past as an inspiration for how they wanted to pack their bags moving forward through time together.

My friend Elliot says “people are brilliant, and we create our relationships brilliantly.” And yet we forget our brilliance when we get activated and agitated. We need to accept our brilliance as fact. It is our birthright.

We want to help clients take credit for their brilliance.  Good couples therapy is about trusting the clients and trusting the process. What do you always pack for your future that should be just hanging in your closet?

Book a couples therapy intensive weekend intensive with me…… lets all check out that closet!

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

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