Re-framing your problems


This page contains an extract from Chapter 5 of:

Byrne, J.W. (2018) How to Write a New Life for Yourself: Narrative therapy and the writing solution. Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT Publications.


Chapter 5: A quick process for re-framing or reinterpreting your problems

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2009-2017

Introducing the Quick Six Windows Model

The Six Windows Model of E-CENT counselling is a way of helping clients to rethink and re-frame their noxious problems, without engaging in confrontation and conflictual argumentation. It consists of an experiment, in which the client is asked to imagine how their problem would look when viewed through six different window frames – or lenses – each of which provides a slightly different ‘context’ for the problem (or a slightly different tint of lens).

Here’s how it works:

The quick process

Think about a current problem, which is serious enough to require urgent treatment.  Give it a rating on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means its ‘okay’, or not a significant problem, and 10 is ‘as bad as could be’. Look through each of the following six ‘windows’ in turn, (as if looking at that serious problem), while noting the slogan associated with the window; and ask yourself the questions suggested:


Window No.1 has this slogan associated with it: Life is difficult for all human beings, at least some of the time, and often much of the time. 

If life is difficult for all human beings, at least some of the time, and often much of the time, and I am human being, then it follows logically that my life must be difficult for me at least some of the time! Clearly, it’s okay to wish I could avoid a particular problem or difficulty, but it makes no sense to assume that I should be able to avoid all problems all of the time.


Window No.2 is associated with this slogan: Life is significantly less difficult provided I keep my goals and preferences in line with the possibilities and probabilities of normal reality.

All humans pick and choose, all of the time.  That’s what having goals, aims, and preferences, means. But, if I am experiencing difficulty right now, doesn’t that mean that I must be not alone be picking and choosing my outcomes, but I must be doing that unrealistically!

Life would clearly be much less difficult if you and I were to pick and choose more moderately, more modestly, more realistically.

Another way of saying this would: “I must keep my expectations in line with reality!”

“I must avoid unrealistic desires, because they just make me feel disappointed, frustrated and thwarted by life’s unwillingness to always deliver the things I desire!”

Window No.3 asserts that: Life is both difficult and non-difficult. 

So if I am very upset, might it not be because I am exclusively focusing on the difficulties, and overlooking those bits which are not difficult (for which I could be grateful)?

Make a list of things you can be grateful for, and review them every day!


For more on this subject, please go to the mother page, How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***