Conversations across the boundaries of models
In the previous chapters we have described how systemic family therapy has evolved from the original experimentation with meeting together with family members to the development of a variety of family therapy models. We have also looked at how systemic approaches offer a way of formulating problems and difficulties which is different from other approaches, such as cognitive, psychodynamic and behavioural models.
Since its birth in the 1950s we have seen systemic thinking and practice develop from a precocious infant into a deviant and marginalized adolescent and then finally into a fully fledged and respected member of adult society. Politicians now even refer to ‘systemic’ problems and processes in everyday language. It is this wider impact on both popular and professional consciousness that we wish to have as a starting focus for this chapter.
Possibly in its early rebellious adolescent period systemic family therapy was more resistant to embracing integrations. Haley (1987), for example, argued that systemic and psychoanalytic ideas were largely incompatible, since systemic ideas locate problems in the transactional patterns between people whereas psychoanalytic ideas locate them firmly within individuals’ psyches. But nowadays systemic family therapists can be seen in conversations across the boundaries with psychodynamic, cognitive and behavioural colleagues.
In much contemporary practice systemic therapists find themselves working alongside colleagues using different approaches, but having similar organizational demands and rules. Good work with a family can be neutralized if communication and co-ordination between the different professionals involved in a case is poor or ineffective. In fact