10 Chapters
Medium 9781855750142

2 Theoretical Framework-How We View Families and Therapy Now

Campbell, David; Draper, Ros; Huffington, Clare Karnac Books ePub

Whereas we used to describe symptomatic behaviour as the individual’s response to the threat of changing relationships, the development of our thinking has led us to the notion that problems in families result from the experience of ‘bad fit’ between the beliefs and behaviours of family members.

Each family member carries inside him or her self a hierarchically organized set of beliefs, premisesor constructs. They derive from the different levels of feedback we get from our environment. The highest, most inclusive beliefs are those which come from interaction with cultural values: Trotect one’s family’, ‘Respect the rights of others’. Lower-level beliefs derive from feedback from the community, family, workplace, dyadic relationships, etc. The reader should refer to Cronen and Pearce (1985) and Cronen, Pearce and Tomm (1985) for a fuller discussion of this topic.

These beliefs combine to exert a contextual force to guide people towards specific actions or behaviours, and those actions or behaviour provide the feedback by which people support or reject the belief which guided that particular action. Thus belief and action are joined in a recursive relationship; and if they are experienced by the individual as a ‘good enough fif, the beliefs and behaviour will be maintained within certain limits.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855750142

8 Positive Connotation

Campbell, David; Draper, Ros; Huffington, Clare Karnac Books ePub

Although the idea of seeing family problems in a positive light was not a new one, the Milan team developed the technique in order to make their paradoxical interventions seem credible to the family. The intention, in using this technique, was strategic. Over the years we have had discussions about whether we really believe what we say when we tell a family that ‘Johnny is doing something helpful for the family by stealing from Woolworths’.

But this i s to miss the point. We believe that people do what they think is best, or what they think they must do in order to prevent something that at the time seems worse from happening. But, since the ‘problem’ behaviour is observed from another context, that is, a ‘problem’ context, it acquires a negative connotation. A positive connotation is no more true or false or right or wrong than a negative connotation; rather, it is a strategic statement aimed to introduce difference into the family belief system and, with it, the possibility of change.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855750142

1 Introduction

Campbell, David; Draper, Ros; Huffington, Clare Karnac Books ePub

We published Working with the Milan Method : Twenty Questions in 1983 as a response to the way the Milan Approach had been described and discussed up to that time. Selvini et al attempted to clarify the major components which under-pinned the approach and described them in their paper, ‘Hypothesizing-Circularity-Neutrality’ (1980). Because we were being confronted with something new, we needed to differentiate these components and make them relevant and manageable for ourselves, as family therapists offering treatment to families. Looking back, we can see how at that time we were preoccupied with linking our systemic thinking to useful family therapy techniques.

We have discovered that people starting out as therapists use Working with the Milan Method : Twenty Questions as an introduction to the basic ideas behind the Milan Approach and as a handbook of therapy skills. It has served as a set of questions and explanations which prompt further questions and which people continue to ask us. But we now answer those questions in a different way : we have inevitably been affected by the feedback created by answering those Twenty Questions’, and the questions family therapists asked of us now represent different preoccupations and different working contexts.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855750142

4 Case Study

Campbell, David; Draper, Ros; Huffington, Clare Karnac Books ePub

We will be following one particular case to illustrate our thinking in this book. This is the Johnson family, whose family tree is given opposite (all names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family):

Mrs Johnson telephoned a local family therapy centre for an appointment after finding that another agency had a long waiting list. She was concerned about her son Ian, who, she said, was bright at school but “doesn’t seem to be handling adolescence very well”. He had been very close to his elder sister, Colette, but she was now away at university and Ian saw little of her. He was getting on very badly with his brothers, particularly James. He was described as “totally unbearable” at home but was doing very well at school. He was lying to his family and also stealing. Mr Johnson’s mother was spending every Sunday with the family and disapproved on Ian’s behaviour.

The team began to organize the information and consider the hypothesis that the mother had something to lose as the family began to leave home; the index patient, Ian, might be needing to draw some attention to another relationship in the family. We also asked ourselves what were the advantages in accepting the position of scapegoat in this family. We noted that father was hardly mentioned in the referral.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855750142

7 Neutrality

Campbell, David; Draper, Ros; Huffington, Clare Karnac Books ePub

Neutrality has proved to be the most controversial and perhaps misunderstood of the ‘guidelines’ referred to in the ‘Hypo thesizing-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.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters