An Introduction to Family Therapy: Systemic Theory and Practice

By Rudi Dallos; Ros Draper | Go to book overview

Glossary of terms

analogic: a non-verbal means of communicating, using physical movements and expressive bodily actions, including speech tone and volume variations. There is often a close equivalence between the content of what is being communicated and the choice of these means. For example, irritation might be expressed by a clipped intonation, the lips compressed without a smile.

circularity: the situation where what happens is in some way determined by some precursor event and has also had some effect on that first event, where it is not possible to determine ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’. This way of viewing the world grew out of biology and ecology. It is consistent with a linear conception if the latter is seen as treating just one small segment of a larger interrelated whole.

circular questioning: questions asked with the intention of revealing differences between people who are members of some system. The questioner expects that the answer will help them to refine their working hypothesis (see below) and so to become interested in asking a further question based on feedback from their respondent. It is this process between the questioner and the respondent, driven by feedback, which changes the respondent’s perspective on their situation and stimulates new thinking.

co-construction: a form of interaction between two individuals or groups where neither prejudges the form that the output of their interaction will take, but each puts forward their respective contributions, confident that the result will be more effective than a similar effort being made by either of them alone (see also hermeneutic).

complementarity: a form of relationship where two people or groups, although differing in characteristics or attributes, find that they can fit together in achieving a shared goal, either by accepting reciprocity (as in a hierarchical, one-up-one-down fit), or by the periodic and accepted reversal or alteration of their relative position.

cybernetics: derived from the Greek word meaning ‘to steer’. Cybernetics is the science of systems which are capable of self-direction and guidance by the ability to alter their activity on the basis of information returning feedback about the results of previous action. Cybernetics has led to the development of so-called ‘intelligent’ systems.

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