Milan Systemic Family Therapy: Conversations in Theory and Practice

Milan Systemic Family Therapy: Conversations in Theory and Practice

Milan Systemic Family Therapy: Conversations in Theory and Practice

Milan Systemic Family Therapy: Conversations in Theory and Practice

Synopsis

This long-awaited book is the first to offer a complete and clear presentation of the therapy of the Milan Associates, Luigi Boscolo and Gianfranco Cecchin. Based on cybernetic theory, their work has had dramatic success in helping families change behavior. This practical and enlightening book uses clinical cases and the fascinating conversations among the four authors to examine the relationship between Milan theory and practice. Transcripts of sessions conducted by Boscolo and Cecchin- which include a family that is hiding a history of incest and one dominated by an anorectic girl- provide vivid examples of family interaction and therapeutic imagination. In the accompanying conversations with Boscolo and Cecchin about these sessions, Hoffman and Penn take us behind the scenes to show how the therapists think through and conduct their therapy. These highly readable conversations clarify the essentials of the therapy, including hypothesizing, circular questioning, positive connotation, and crafting interventions. Like Milan therapy itself, the interviews are recursive; new ideas about the therapy feed back into the conversations and stimulate further revelations. A lengthy introduction sets the Milan approach in historical context, and introductions to the individual cases highlight the main ideas.

Excerpt


From Psychoanalysis to Systems

This book deals with the therapy and teaching of Luigi Boscolo and Gianfranco Cecchin. Their work, profoundly contextual in every respect, must itself be seen in the context of ongoing development in the field of family systems therapy. In 1967 Boscolo and Cecchin joined a group of eight psychiatrists organized by Mara Selvini Palazzoli, a child analyst in Milan. The group's intention was to treat severely disturbed children together with their families. Their orientation was psychoanalytic, however, and at first they struggled with the problem of how to apply analytic concepts to families. This effort proved exciting but discouraging. Therapy seemed to take a very long time, and the therapists were frustrated by what they felt was a lack of results. Only the families were satisfied. They continued to come despite the lack of improvement.

In 1972, the group became fascinated by accounts of family therapy and research that had been done under the aegis of anthropologist Gregory Bateson in the United States. During the 1950s, Bateson was involved in a project on communication in Palo Alto, California, which, in the 1960s, became the Mental Research Institute directed by psychiatrist Don D. Jackson . . .

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