Prototype for “Insecurity”

Questioning the other – Questioning oneself

Often associated with Presented Concerns such as: anguish anxiety clamming up distress getting anxious insecurity invalidation isolating lack of confidence questioning self-esteem scrutinizing hiding fear worry concern doubt panic timidity judging criticizing excluding distancing tolerating differences

Slightly different PIPs possibly feeding “insecurity”

Tips to co-construct antidote (3) via thickening preferences (#27)

Aim or sub-task         

Guiding questions

Identify a relational preference (preferred relational understanding such as preferred emotions, capacities, behaviours, attitudes, intentions, identities, ways of relating).

You said your child had ‘low self-esteem’; how much do you think she understand why this is a ‘bad’ thing for you? Is it that you have to trust in yourself if you want to succeed? Is it that you value personal accomplishments? Something else?

 (To ‘bearer’ of problem) what is it that you value about ‘clamming up? does it help you to feel safe? Is it like a shield? Shield to what?

If there were other forms to protect yourself, or make some changes so that protection wasn’t needed as much, would you be interested in figuring them out?

When would you say the ‘clamming up’ turns into a “bad thing” for you, because makes you do things that go against your best interest?

Why would you say this does against your best interest?


Some parents sometimes want to help their children to learn to take risks and trust themselves… is that important to you? Why?

Did you ever noticed something that would get close to such ability/learning?


Characterize the preference

How would you call this “good” thing you seem to be after? (e.g., “(supporting) self-confidence”; “trusting others for help”; “being authentic”; “courage to take risks”).

Does your child know that you are interested in promoting her ability to nurture…. (e.g., “self-efficacy”)?

When have you seen her exercising “self-confidence” to some degree?

How would you know that she is getting more confident?

Have you met people who are very confident but still cautious, perhaps admirable for that?

Who is better at home at trusting oneself and others for support? Second best? Third?


Bring forth powerful inspirations (e.g., utility, goodness, beauty, or other “good reasons”).

Would you say there’s something ‘ugly’ about “isolating”? if so, can you tell me more about that?

Why would you say connecting and trusting others for support is desirable? Sometimes even admirable?

What has life taught you about the importance of “trusting others/oneself”?

Why is it good?

Why is it useful?

Where did you learn that from?

What would happen immediately in your relationship with your child if they believed you think it is good but not easy to trust people who love you?

What would happen after a year? After 10 years?


Track ongoing changes in relation to preference

Who has gotten better at (supporting) self-confidence at home?

Who has noticed some difference in your child’s “self-esteem” in the last year? In the last month? How have you noticed that?


How long are these ‘clamming up” episodes these last few days?

From 1 to 10, how intense are they now in your head/heart? How frequent?

What does ‘self-confidence’ do to “clamming up”?

What does ‘empathy & support’ do to “self-deprecation”?

(When unhelpful interaction is being enacted in session: does questioning/demanding/pressure help you? What else helps you?)


Plan, do, and consolidate


What else are you going to do to Support/exercise self-confidence?

Do you have a plan?

How would you practice your “self-confidence muscles”?

Who may have some other ideas?

What do these changes tell about what the relationship between you is becoming?

What are you becoming into?

Tips to co-construct antidote (2) via exception (#27)

Aim or sub-task         

Guiding questions

Formulate a hypothetical solution

Imagine this issue of ‘low self-esteem’ solved out, what would be different? What would you see different? What would you hear different? What would you think/feel different? How would you respond or do different?

Identify critical factors in hypothetical solution


What did you do that helped solving out this problem, in this imagined situation?

When the problem solved out, how did you respond?

When you responded like that, what did you observe as an effect? How others responded to your response?

Identify an exception to the problem

When have you been able to resist engaging in ‘you were wrong’, and opened space for him to share what was going on for them?

What did you notice when you did? What was different?

I heard you saying that there was a time when he was able to ‘put himself together and give it another try’; can you tell me more about this?

Amplify exception in the present


How did you did that (exception)?

How else did you empowered yourself and didn’t let ‘clamming up’ (or “I have to question this attitude”) manage you?

How did you manage not to surrender to the anxiety/anger that came up for you when you saw your child was…?

Where did you learn that?

What did you do to get ready or prepare to make that step in that occasion?

What other personal resources did you rely on to make this step?


What did you notice different in the relationship with your child when you did that (exception)?

What did you notice different in yourself?

What did other members of your family noticed?

Who was the first in noticing the difference? Who was the second? Third?

How did others respond?

How did you feel when they did that?

How did the rest of your day go after this happened?

What did you notice later?

Co-create a new future

When you act upon these ideas, what difference will it make for you? What difference will it make about how you feel about the episode? About yourself?

When you feel like that, what will be easier to do from that mindset/mood/state of mind/stance etc.?

How will this orient you towards a new direction in your life?

While you continue going in this preferred direction, how will your new future be different from your old future?

Formulate a step by step plan

Would you be interested in working (with your parents) to figure out new ways to (expand solutions/resist problems)?

Who else could we recruit as part of your supporting team?

How could they help with this? What could their contributions be?


What difference does it make for your next steps knowing that you were capable of resisting the ‘unnecessary self-protection’ this time?

What ideas does this success give you about what your next step could be?

How will you know that your next step was successful?

How else would you like to restrict the power that “compulsion to confront” (or “compulsion to flight”) may have in your family?

Tips to co-construct antidote (1) via unique outcomes (#27)

Aim or sub-task         

Guiding questions

Explore unique outcomes

Have you ever seen your child overcoming a hard time? Has they ever able to overcome the impulse to isolate and trust someone else?  Has they ever decided to do something different other than surrender to anguish? Has they ever done something different to avoid getting to a place where ‘clamming up’ seems unavoidable?


What did you do in that occasion, which helped her to accomplish this?

What did you do right after, when you noticed she was getting stronger to fight with ‘self-doubt’?

How did your child respond when you did that?

If by exploring this episode in depth we could learn something about your capacity to foster further self-confidence in your child, would you be interested in doing that?


Internalize personal agency

You mentioned that you did something different on that occasion, how did you do that?

How did you manage to abstain from questioning and demanding, and tried instead opening space so that they could share what was going on for them? Was there anything different that you thought or felt that made you stronger, so that you could respond differently in that occasion?

Link personal agency with personal resources or skills

Where did you learn that?

What does this skill or ability tell about yourself as a person?

Recruit a supporting team

Who could help you to get stronger at containing anguish?

Who could help you to get stronger at avoid unwittingly pressuring and support her in her struggle?

Who could help you to help?

If ‘self-doubt’ was taking control over you, what could your dad do to help you get stronger?

Who could help your dad help you?

Who else could help you?

Inquire about future effects of unique outcome


If in the next few days/weeks you had further opportunities to support your child’s desire to get stronger at trusting, and sharing frustration with others, what do you think would happen to the problem?

Would its presence (or power to influence your relationship with your daughter) increase or decrease?

What difference would this make for you?

Tips to weaken problematic interactions (3) via externalizing a problem-strengthening IDEA (#27)

Aim or sub-task         

Guiding questions

Explore with curiosity the nature, history, effects, and tactics of the (potentially problematic) idea



What is it that worries you the most about this idea (e.g., “my child is neglectful”)  

Where did this idea (e.g,. “he/she doesn’t care”) came from?


How does this idea interfere with your life?

How has this idea affected your relationship with your child?

How do you think your child feels when he perceives you as under the influence of this idea?

Where is this idea more influential? How does this idea manage to convince you of its “truth”? When did you start “blindly obeying” this idea? If you convinced yourself that your child knows very well that what they did was wrong, that you would never collude with “neglectfulness” by accepting such behavior, but that he just lacks the self-confidence to do better… what do you thing would happen with this idea?


Explore unique outcomes

Has there ever been a time when this idea was weaker in your mind? Has there ever been a time when a different, more helpful idea came up to mind about what was behind her acting  in that particular way? What was it?


Alternatively to child: Has there ever been a time when you were sure that dad was rejecting your behavior and not yourself?


What happened on this occasion? What was different as a result if this different idea coming up?

What did you do different? What did s/he do? What did your partner say?

What was the first thing you noticed?

What have you done that has helped your child to respond differently? What else?


Explore future effects of unique outcome

If your child believed that it is more important to you that s/he is really trying, and making small progress, what do you think would happen to the problem?

If your child believed that you condemn “the deed” but not “the doer”, what do you think would happen to the problem?


If could child was convinced about your good intentions, what would this mean to you?

Who would be the most surprised if s/he did get convinced?

Who would be the least surprised? Why?

What would be different in your life?

What would be different in your relationship with your child?

Tips to weaken problematic interactions (2) via externalization (#27)

Aim or sub-task         

Guiding questions

Name the problem: negotiate an experience-near formulation for the problem

How would you call this problem? (e.g., “clamming up”; “freezing”; “lack of self-confidence”; “low self-esteem”; “anxiety”; “self-questioning”; “upset”;  “hiding”, etc.).

In a scale from 1 to 10, how intense the problem (e.g., “clamming up”) would be right now?

Explore the negative effects of the problem

Does the problem (e.g., “clamming up”) make you do things that you don’t like to do, or that you regret afterwards?

What does the problem make you do? What else?
Is it a ‘strong’, powerful problem?

What makes the problem bigger (or stronger)?

If we asked your mom, how can she tell when the problem went from 3 to 5 in the scale? To 7? To 9?

How does she do, or how does she respond when ‘anxiety’ made you say that? What else does ‘anxiety’ make you to do, that you are not proud about doing afterwards? How does that make you feel?

Explore unique outcomes (for more details check up on “tips via unique outcome”).

Did you ever beat the problem (e.g., ‘unhelpful thoughts’)?

Did the problem ever complied with you, instead of you complying with it?

When was (bearer of problem) able to lower the intensity (or frequency) of the problem?

When was (bearer of problem) able to do something with the problem? How did you notice? What was the first thing you noticed?

What did you/her do?

What did your mom notice? What did she do?

What happened on that occasion?

What did others say about this?

Explore unique outcomes in the future

If (unique outcome) happened again in the next few days/weeks, what would happen to the problem?

Do you think its influence in your life would increase or decrease?

What difference would this make for you?

What would be different in your life? What else?

Some ideas that could foster “calming down” (#27)

  • “Neglect, unwillingness or opposition is one thing; lack of ability or self-confidence is different”.
  • “Anxiety (or feelings of inadequacy) usually interferes someone’s performance and skills”
  • “Express or repress (or supress): Hiding anxiety may make anxiety worse”
  •  “Being really understood is the best antidote for anguish, distress, and anxiety”
  • “Stating someone’s overt behavior is easy; understanding the underlying intention or state of mind can be more difficult”.
  • “Everyone may have a particular way of experiencing reality; without listening what’s going on for the other, there’s no way of understanding or helping the other”
  • “Empathy is the beginning of change”
  • “First you need time and help to put yourself together”
  • “Parental demandingness is not enough; warmth and sensitivity are also key for kids to flourish”
  • “Self-efficacy beliefs are key to perform well”

Some “truths” linked to “Getting Anxious” (#27)

  • “My child is simply neglectful”
  • “My child is unwilling to do things right”
  • “My child is oppositional”
  • “My child is just stupid”
  • “The only way to help my child doing things right is letting them know when they are wrong”
  • “Only bad friends/neglectful parents tell you that you are doing alright when you are not”
  • “I have tried being nice and everything else, but nothing works with him/her”
  • “What my child is doing is against my principles; I cannot tolerate it”
  • “tolerating her behavior makes me complicit; I will lose authority”
  • “I’m just telling the truth; I don’t like lying”
  • (Feeding questioning oneself) “They know better, I deserve this”
  • “I am just a kid, I have not rights”
  • “I should know how to do this right on my own; I just suck”
  • “I don’t have emotional needs; that’s for the weak”
  • “Communicating needs is useless”
  • “Nobody will understand me”
  • “Nobody really cares so I won’t even try doing things better”
  • Add your own