the miracle question

The Miracle Question w/ Examples, Worksheets, Demo Video & Exercises

The Miracle Question is the most popular technique in solution-focused coaching and therapy. When used correctly, it serves as a life-changing experience. In this post, I will discuss the miracle question and how to use it in coaching.

What is the miracle question? 

The miracle question is a solution-focused technique that a coach or other helping professional uses to guide individuals to envision what their life would be like if the problem no longer existed. The miracle question is not a technique of fantasy. When used correctly, it helps the individual discover what they really want. 

Who came up with the miracle question?

In the late 1970s, Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg, and colleagues at the Brief Family Therapy Centre in Milwaukee, WI, USA, invented the miracle question as a part of solution-focused therapy.

How to ask the miracle question? 

Miracle Question Script

“Suppose tonight you go to bed and go to sleep as usual. And during the night, a miracle happens. And the problem vanishes. And the issues that concern you are resolved, but you’re still asleep. Therefore, you don’t know that the miracle has happened. When you wake up tomorrow, what will be the first things that will tell you that the miracle has happened? How will you know that the transformation has occurred?”

Although the miracle question appears easy to ask, it requires considerable skill to achieve the real benefits. The coach must ask the question slowly. The question should be broken down line by line to ensure the individual understands. 

The question should be met with respectful silence to give the person time to absorb the question entirely. Allow the client to respond and use follow-up questions to dig deeper.

Follow-Up Questions: 

  • How will you know the miracle happened?
  • What will be the first thing you notice that would tell you that a miracle occurred?
  • What else would tell you that things are different?
  • What might others see that would tell them that the miracle has happened?

The miracle question has different versions depending on the context and the client.

For example, in a specific situation where the client wants to communicate better with a spouse, the coach may ask: 

“If you woke up tomorrow, and a miracle happened so that the problem you had with communicating with your spouse went away, what would be different?” 

Download the Miracle Question Worksheet Here.

 

What does the miracle question accomplish?

The purpose of the miracle question is to propel the individual from a problem-focused conversation to a vision where they can step out of the problem story into a problem-free story. More importantly, it helps the coach know exactly what the individual wants from the situation and how to best help them through coaching. When the coach uses the miracle question in-depth and uses active listening skills and powerful questions, he/she will be able to identify possible solutions and an action plan. 

When should you ask the miracle question?

To help a person get to where they want to be, they must know the ideal outcome. Therefore, the coach should ask the miracle question at the start of the coaching relationship, for example, in the first or second session. Using the miracle question at the beginning sets the course for coaching. It helps to clarify what the individual “really” wants. 

It’s best practice for the coach to only ask the miracle question once in a coaching session. In the solution-focused coaching model, the miracle question is typically asked at the beginning of the coaching session after building rapport. If the coach is thorough when using the miracle question, it will not be necessary to ask it again. 

The Best Times to Use the Miracle Question

  • The miracle question is best asked when individuals have a goal they want to achieve or a problem they want to solve. It helps them to have an awareness of what the end goal will look like.
  • The coach should also use the miracle question when an individual does not know what a preferred future would look like. The coach should get the individual into a relaxing state and help them visualize. The coach can also have the individual continue building on the miracle by giving them a miracle question exercise to complete at home.
  • The miracle question can be used with couples, families, friends, and teams to help them clarify what each person needs from each other. By using the miracle question and asking each person what the ideal situation, life, communication, or whatever they are there for looks like, they will see what they need from each other.

Example of the Miracle Question in a Coaching Session

This is a solution-focused coaching session. The miracle question starts at 12:05.

YouTube video player

 

Alternative Miracle Question Exercises and Worksheets

1. Letter from the Future You

Download Worksheet

Imagine that it is two years from now. Everything in your life has worked out well, and the problems you are currently facing have been successfully resolved. Everything is great. Your dreams have come true, and you are enjoying your life. Write yourself a letter from the “future you” to the “you of today,” explaining: 

  • How you’ve got to where you are 
  • The exact steps you took 
  • How you overcame roadblocks
  • Make it a cheery letter, giving yourself encouragement and praise for how you dealt with the problem or attained your goal.

2. The Miracle 10 Day

Download Worksheet

Imagine after you go through your usual day, you go to bed. And while you are sleeping, a miracle happens. When you wake up, you are having a 10 day. As you are going through your day, what would tell you that your day is a 10?

Taught in the book Learning Solution-Focused Therapy: An Illustrated Guide, By Anne Bodmer Lutz 

[Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive a commission if you purchase this book on Amazon once you click the link] 

3. Metaphorical Image or Frame 

Bill O’Hanlon, a psychotherapist who co-developed Solution-Oriented Therapy (a form of Solution-focused therapy), recommends using metaphorical images such as: 

  • Magic wand
  • Time machine
  • Crystal ball
  • Rainbow bridge, etc.

4. Magic Wand

If you could wave a magic wand, how would the situation be? How would things be different?

5. Time Machine

Download Worksheet

Imagine you are inside a time machine that transports you into the future. When you exit the time machine, you feel better. What would you notice is different? How would you know change has occurred?

Check out more
14 Solution-Focused Techniques for Therapy and Coaching
and
101 Solution-Focused Questions

Conclusion

The Miracle Question is not just a visualization technique. It is a powerful tool used to uncover the deep desires of an individual and unravel an action plan for the individual being coached.

If you would like to learn how to use the miracle question in coaching, check out the Life and Solution-Focused Coach Training program.

Recommended Reading: Solution-Focused Approach to Coaching: Questions, Interventions, Techniques [+ Example Session]

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