POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA IN SYSTEMIC THINKING AND PRACTICE
Student Number: 100193632
Word Count: 2,699
Analyse, critique, compare and contrast 2 texts from systemic literature describing different aspects of systemic theory and practice. I have selected Chapter 2 ‘The Therapy Manual’ from ‘Systemic couple Therapy and Depression’ by Elsa Jones and Eia Asen (2000, pages 13-44) and Chapters 2, 3 and 4 from ‘Moved to Tears, Moved to Action: Solution Focused Brief Therapy with Women and Children’ by Jane Lethem (reprinted 2000, pages 27-56). I have remained convinced about this selection since reading the module handbook and anticipating the first course work assignment. Noticing this fixed position has caused me some uncertainty and I thought I should perhaps choose something else! I applied some curiosity and irreverence (Cecchin et al, 1992) to this conundrum. This made me more curious about my doubts and interested in my choices. Why do these two texts attract me? As I analyse the fundamental theories underpinning them and offer a critical understanding of how these theories evolved in the developments of the field of systemic practice as well as analyse connections and differences in the models, I have an aspiration that my thinking around the answer will become clearer to myself and my reader. Client and service anonymity is ensured.
To help me navigate through my consideration of the theoretical underpinnings of the two texts I will apply ‘Approach-Method –Technique’ (Burnham, 1992) as a framework. I have found this useful in organising my thinking. The Therapy Manual (TM)
This first text relates to a large scale Randomised Control Trial (RCT) investigation of therapeutic effectiveness. One of the interventions investigated was systemic couple therapy. Rigorous methodology and analysis demonstrated the effectiveness of systemic couple therapy where one member has been diagnosed with clinical depression. This outcome provides an undisputed link from the evidence base to practice as acknowledged through NICE guidelines (NICE, 2004b). This manual is offered as a guide to the therapy. At the level of Approach - which I understand as the philosophical basis underpinning why we choose particular ways of working, viewing the world and orienting our work- the authors make clear statements. Elsa Jones informs us she is influenced by feminist and social constructionist ideas. Eia Asen claims to occupy a more integrative and perhaps irreverent position. At the level of method, the TM is influenced by a number of models of systemic therapy. I shall briefly track these as I understand them, picking out what I think is most influential. These influences can be traced back to the origins in the 1950’s to ideas of systems theory, cybernetics and Gregory Batson’s research into communication patterns. Dissatisfaction with the existing individual focus led researchers to consider family relationships. Communication patterns where a family member had a diagnosis of schizophrenia gained particular attention. Therapeutic implications were widened by Bowlby, Jay Haley and Salvadore Minuchin. Their ideas became – and still are- widely influential (Dallos and Drapper 2010; Carr, 2008) as Strategic and Structural models. The family life cycle occupied a significant place in the development of these models in terms of their method and techniques. The Milan team developed their model from this same historical context. However, their method and techniques had a different emphasis. In a seminal paper, the principals and methods they researched and found most useful is described as ‘Hypothesizing’, ‘Circularity’ and ‘Neutrality’ (Selvini et al 1980). The shift to second order cybernetics and the split of the original team led to post-Milan systemic therapy with its emphasis of meanings, emotions and stories (Bertrando, 2004). The therapist could no longer be view as objective observer. In another seminal paper...
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