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the family either on certain days…or at certain times” (p. 4). In the past, the ritual
amplified a symptom to explode it. (The family might solemnly thank the Chapter 4: Strategic & Systemic
symptomatic member each day for having the symptom.) More recently, the
ritual consists of simultaneous conflicting directives. (The mother is asked to be
simultaneously wife to her husband and mother to her daughter. But on even
days she is told to be wife to her husband and on odd days, mother to her
daughter.) In general, Boscolo and Cecchin believe that all interventions should
try to do is perturb the system so that it can react on its own terms. Interventions,
then, are not geared toward any particular outcome, but rather to jog the system
to find its own solution, often in ways that are surprising to all.
The Milan team has been influenced by cognitive biologists (e.g., Maturana and
von Foerster) and radical constructivists (von Glasersfeld). Greater validity is
given to the concept that reality is a social construct rather than based on “real”
external events and objects. “Ideas, beliefs, myths, values, perceptions, fantasies,
and other internal productions” (p. 19) assume greater importance. Families
unconsciously construct maps or premises about their world to help them
understand what is happening. The therapist looks for the premise that attaches
the behaviors to a problem, and tries to articulate it to the family. The family may
then shift its premise, and change behaviors accordingly. Thus, meaning, for the
Milan team, is primary, and the new behavior, in MRI terms, would be
characterized as stemming from a second-order change.
In the 1980s Boscolo and Cecchin split from Selvini and Prata, becoming the
Milan Associates. The Associates focused on training, while Selvini and Prata
focused on research. The training that they have done has helped shape the
treatment model. The trainers worked in small private clinics; whereas, the
trainees tended to work in public settings where the ideas espoused by the
family systems therapists were met with hostility. In addition, the families were
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This document was uploaded on 04/03/2014.
- Spring '09