Family Therapy: First Steps towards a Systemic Approach

By John B. Burnham | Go to book overview

3

Punctuation

‘It is the theory that determines what we observe’

(Albert Einstein)

The genogram has been presented as a way of organizing information systemically by mapping relationships, tracing intergenerational patterns, and identifying the transitions through which they evolve. It can, as Exercise 2.2 demonstrated, help the workers to organize their thoughts before and between sessions. Used during a session, it can also serve the useful purpose of eliciting information about family relationships in a way that is helpful to the worker and interesting to the family. Adults and children alike have spontaneously said that constructing their genogram had provoked powerful thoughts and feelings about past, current, and future relationships. This chapter focuses on the concept of punctuation as it is used to organize the patterns of family communication during an interview. The aim of punctuation is to identify the circuit or circuits of interaction in which the problem is embedded and so enable the worker to intervene at the level of the pattern rather than of the individual. This approach increases the number of ways an episode can be analysed and therefore expands the possible therapeutic options available.
Levels of communication
Watzlawick, Jackson, and Beavin (1967) distinguishes between two levels of communication.
1. Digital communication. This is simply the content of the spoken or written word, such as a statement, ‘I went to see my mother

-45-

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Family Therapy: First Steps towards a Systemic Approach
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • General Editor’s Foreword viii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Theory 7
  • 1 - Relationships 9
  • 2 - Transitions 25
  • 3 - Punctuation 45
  • 4 - Models of Therapy 61
  • Part II - Practice 75
  • 5 - Convening 76
  • 6 - Preparation 92
  • 7 - Interviewing I 108
  • 8 - Interviewing II 126
  • 9 - Intervening 142
  • 10 - Failure 160
  • Part III - Agency Context 177
  • 11 - Integrating Family Therapy into a Social Work Agency 179
  • 12 - Applications of Family Therapy in Social Work Practice 192
  • Appendix I - Training Resources in Family Therapy 214
  • Appendix II - Invitation/ Appointment Letters 217
  • Appendix III - Pre-Session Questionnaires 219
  • Appendix IV - Videotape Consent Form 221
  • Appendix V - Verbatim Letter from Case Description in Chapter 12 223
  • References 225
  • Name Index 235
  • Subject Index 238
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