Neutrality has proved to be the most controversial and perhaps misunderstood of the 'guidelines' referred to in the 'Hypothesizing- Circularity-Neutrality' paper published by the Milan team ( Selvini et al 1980). Although their original definition referred to an attempt to conduct an interview so that each family member would feel the therapist had no favourites, the concept of neutrality has been applied to other contexts such as the therapist's view of change. Generalizing this concept to other areas had led to much misunderstanding, and rightly so. In fact we would not now use the concept in the way we described it in the original paper in 1983, but prefer to discuss neutrality by making several important points.
In our discussions of the concept of neutrality, we are frequently asked what role neutrality plays in cases in which a worker holds some statutory responsibility. In order to address this question we find it helpful to distinguish two domains of behaviour: the domain of constraint and the domain of autonomy.
As social beings, we are constrained by laws, expectations, economics, relationships, etc.; but we are also autonomous and able to decide when, where and how we live our lives. As long as we accept the constraints imposed by social living, we can act