Wendel A. Ray1,2
Don D. Jackson was one of the most prolific pioneers of the family and brief therapy, the founder of this discipline. This pioneering work was carried out by Jackson and his colleagues around the 1950s and the 1960s, first together with G. Bateson and then at the Mental Research Institute. His works still influence most of the systemic approaches of therapy still in use till the very day: from the brief therapy model developed after the death of Jackson at M.R.I. to the strategic work of Jay Haley and Cloe Madanes, from the structural model developed by Salvador Minuchin, to the work of the Milan School and the solutionfocused therapy of De Shazer. The author revisits Jackson’s career, which was brought to an end at an age of 48 years by a tragic and unexpected death, recollecting his successes and his contributions in the founding of the International Theory and its application to brief and family therapy. The cybernetic model together with the basic notions regarding systems, social constructivism, the use of circular questioning and others are only a fragment of the influence generated by Jackson on the majority of the brief and family therapy models. Just like clay that holds together the foundation blocks, Jackson’s contributions continue to be the cohesive element that bounds most of our present systemic approaches – these act as a testimony of the vitality, the courage and the far-sighting vision of Don D. Jackson after more than thirty years from his death.
1Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA.
2Marriage and Family Therapy at The University of Louisiana at Monroe.