mid-1970s to mid-1980s
The second phase can be seen to reveal some important movements in the family therapy field away from the pragmatic and somewhat behaviourist emphasis of the first phase towards a rationalist philo sophical approach more central to European traditions of thought. In particular, the ideas of Kant, who stressed that our knowledge of the world was inevitably a construction and questioned the notion of objective reality, inspired the growth of humanistic psychologies in the USA. There were also the wider cultural movements towards individualism, personal growth, inner exploration, creativity and individuality, for example as seen in alternative movements, such as the hippies, ecology groups, gay rights movements and anti-racist movements. In psychotherapy constructivist ideas had a profound effect, for example the work of George Kelly (very much inspired by Kant’s ideas) and Carl Rogers, which led to person-centred forms of therapy and counselling. These took as a central aim the establishing of empathy by attempting to understand the client’s world from his or her perspective, rather than that of an expert therapist. More generally, there was a movement in psychology away from behaviourism and positivism towards cognitive approaches that focused on how people actively attempted to form versions of the world which shaped their actions. Earlier, Bateson had also been influenced by humanistic and existential ideas and linked his idea of epistemologies, for example, with George Kelly’s notion of construct systems (a personal but organized set of interconnected constructs or beliefs).
Outside the USA one of the most significant developments was that of the Milan team in the 1970s. Palazzoli et al. (1978) turned to Bateson’s ideas, especially his emphasis on families as centrally concerned with