"Do One Thing Different" is a much-needed, straightforward do-it-yourself (DIY) guide to solution-focused techniques. Clients love or loathe this book.
Some clients are unwilling to look into a book that is plainly written and easy to read. They loathe dryly written more academic texts, however, complex text that relies on diagnostic labels and bleak prognoses seems more appropriate to the perceived gravity of their problems and issues.
Other clients love this book because it has scant respect for diagnostic labels and is optimistic about the possibility for improvement for most people and their circumstances. They love it because the simplicity overlays subtleties and practicalities of DIY techniques that can be put into use, right now and safely tested in their everyday lives.
If you want an evidence-based justification of solution-focused therapy, then this is not your book. If you want to explore the biography of your emotions and distressing behaviours, or to gain an insight into the human condition, then there are many, very fine books that explore those topics. O'Hanlon plainly states that he has no interest in examining these or similar areas.
"I began to realize how messed up I really was. I was 'clinically depressed,' and most probably I had a biochemically based brain disorder. I probably needed medications. Since I had been sexually abused when I was a child, the books indicated that a minimum of several years' worth of therapy was in order. I would have to spend lots of time, money, and energy getting in touch with the repressed, dissociated memories and feelings associated with the abuse. But I wasn't certain that I wanted to take medications or go through years of painful therapy. I was certain I couldn't afford either. Now wonder I became even more depressed!"
O'Hanlon tells us the story of his personal epiphany when he discovered how to help clients to develop self-management strategies that are grounded in their personal experiences and strengths.
"Problem-oriented and explanation-based theories focus on what is wrong with a person or what went wrong in the past. Solution-oriented therapy highlights what is right with the person, what has worked or been helpful in the past, and what the person can do right now to change things...
Solution-oriented therapy...encourages people to move out of analyzing the nature of the problem and how it arose and instead to begin to find solutions and take action to solve it."
For readers who are interested in the Solutions-Focused approach to dealing with their issues, then "Do One Thing Different" is a user-friendly, DIY guide to developing your own Solution Keys. The 10 Solution Keys are described with useful examples and suggestions for implementing them: they are
Sabotage Your Problem Behaviours (find what leads up to the problem behaviour and disrupt it)
Recognize What Works Well for You (what do you already know and do what works well for you)
Keep Your Past and Feelings in Perspective (they don't have to determine your present or your future)
Shift Your Attention (you choose where to focus your attention: what is worth your energy and time?)
Tell Your Success Story Backwards (in the future you are telling the story of your success and how you achieved it: so, what simple things do you need to do RIGHT NOW?)
Change Your Problem Biography into Solutions-Focused Auto-biography (acknowledge what is in your circle of influence, change that, and change yourself)
Explore the Wider Meanings of Your Life (spirituality and Spirituality)
If You Need to Complain, Be Clear About It (what is the outcome that you want, what needs to be different to achieve that?)
Rituals Exist for a reason (use them to mark the passing of old habits or to welcome new and happier ways of living)
Celebrate What Is Good in Your Life (routine can promote intimacy and connectedness as much as set-piece social occasions)
O'Hanlon writes with warmth and clarity: there are times when the tone is too self-consciously humorous and irreverent, and the text can occasionally border on the trite, however, it is a clear and easy to follow book. I recommend this book to
anyone who has caught themselves thinking, "I am so tired of this. I've thought this to death and I'm still no further forward";
anyone who is attacted to Solutions-Focused therapy, and senses that they DO know what to do, they just need a few hints and tips to get them started.