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Unformatted text preview: g them toward seeing themselves in a relational context and
also seeing that context from the perspectives of other family members” (Nichols
& Schwartz, 1998, p. 376). The therapist is curious about how the family system
operates, but indifferent to any particular outcome because to do so would
unduly pressure the family (Nichols & Schwartz). Instead, the therapist
generates multiple new hypotheses to help the family find different ways of
viewing and understanding their problems.
The model is characterized by the concepts of hypothesizing, circularity, and
neutrality that originated in the work before the split in the Milan group.
Assessment and Treatment
Hypothesizing is an assessment tool through which the therapist begins an
exploration into the family system and invites the family to join him/her in the
investigation. Hypotheses must be systemic. That is, they must take into account
all relational components of the family. The working hypothesis guides the
circular questioning. “Without [a] hypothesis [the therapist’s] questions will lack
a coherent meaning and bring no new information to the family” (Piercy, et al.,
1996, p. 61). Alternate hypotheses develop through the questions the therapist
poses to the family; responses from the family lead to new hypotheses by the
therapist, which leads to new questions, more responses, and new hypotheses.
All hypotheses are considered equally valid (Piercy, et al., 1986) so long as they
provide new information about how the family system operates.
Influenced by Bateson’s work, the Milan group (i.e., Boscolo and Cecchin)
believe that premises, values, or guiding principles might be unconscious. In
forming hypothesis and questions, they look for a premise or myth that holds the
behaviors attached to a problem. If the premise can be shifted, change might
occur together with the change in beliefs.
Circularity refers both to the attributes of member-to-member interactions and to
the form of interactions between the therapist and the family. Any individual
family member’s behavior must be understood to be part of a circular seque...
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- Spring '09