Volume 22 (2011)

Issue 3


Editorial

After the enormous achievement of the compilation in Volume 22 Issues 1 and 2, of 38 articles to cover the history of our journal and to reflect the culture of KCC in that history, we return in the final issue of Volume 22 to submitted papers. There are two themes running through these five papers. One is the continuing attempt to understand what makes a dialogue therapeutic ,while the second is how we convert these understandings into forms of practice. In particular, how the particular therapeutic context (on a bus, in the clients’ home) shapes the inner feelings of the therapist. 

Celia Sales starts the Issue with a conversation with Pina Prata, one of the foundational figures in family therapy. Sadly he died while the paper was in a late stage of preparation but this does make this commemoration of his ideas and his retrospective thoughts particularly timely. As one of our reviewers said, Prata comes over as compassionate, irreverent, and interested in connecting upwards and outwards with other psychotherapeutic discourses. For me one of the most interesting aspects is his struggles to define what is unique about therapy beyond general human helping. The central role of relationships in an ecosystemic / multisystemic sense, and his expanding of the systemic position to – well, everything. Not just the street and the bus but other systemic contexts such as organisations as well. 

In the UK at present there is a lively debate about the way that working with couples is central to systemic therapy but our focus has been rather more on the couple as parents than on how to work with intimate relationships. Karl Tomm and Jill Acton offer this direct focus on the operation and quality of the relationship between the couple. They do this primarily through a description of two very practicable exercises: reciprocal reflective listening when there is cooperation and unilateral negative enquiry when only one partner is able to engage with the therapy. What may be particularly valuable is that these exercises were constructed with a focus on how they would change interactions at home. 

A different focus on processes outside the clinic is offered by Aurora Bracelli. Her research, conducted as part of an MSc training, examined the attitudes of therapists to seeing families in their own homes. This is becoming an increasingly common practice but the issues it raises have not been researched in any detail. Aurora conducted a qualitative study using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis which has resulted in a useful specification of the main issues along with some insight into the reasons that therapists may differ in their willingness to work in this way. This article provides the beginning of a specification of the issues that training courses would need to take account of if they are to provide a better basis for their graduates to be able to work effectively, and comfortably, in families’ own homes. 

John Shotter offers a paper that keeps some of the style of the keynote from which it derived in order to be respectful to his concentration on the significance of therapeutic, and other, contexts. Perhaps it is this origin that encouraged him to take very strong positions such as about the impossibility of knowing in advance what we will say. Do all conversations involve creation of the uniquely new? In which case therapeutic conversations must be using this provisionality in particular ways. John’s article grapples with a major concern of Pina Prata’s conversation in rooting therapeutic effect in an understanding of human functioning and yet trying to understand what it is that enables it to be therapeutically effective. 

Our final paper by Luigi Onnis brings us directly back to ideas of what makes a therapeutic conversation effective, and how this translates into forms of practice. His highly developed approach to adolescent anorexia works on multiple levels of the family system esepcially the family myths across generations. Luigi’s elaboration of the theroretical position is exemplified through a synthesised case example using particularly their technique of Family Time Sculptures.

Professor Peter Stratton

Joint Editor


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Ser Terapeuta Sistémico na Família e nas Organizações Célia M.D.Sales & Francisco Xavier Pina Prata  Download fulltext in Portuguese  
Editorial Peter Stratton 716-717 Download Editorial  
Being a Systemic Therapist in the Family and in Organizations Célia M.D.Sales & Francisco Xavier Pina Prata 718-731 Download Abstract PDF ACCESS 
Reflective Listening and Negative Enquiry: Two Exercises to Enhance Couple Communication Karl Tomm & Jill Acton 732-745 Download Abstract PDF ACCESS 
A Qualitative Study Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to Explore Clinicians’ Experiences of Working with Clients in a Variety of Settings Aurora Bracelli 746-764 Download Abstract PDF ACCESS 
Therapeutic Realities and the Dialogical: Body, Feeling, Language and World John Shotter 765-786 Download Abstract PDF ACCESS 
Family and Individual in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa: An Experience of “Suspended Time” Luigi Onnis 787-805 Download Abstract PDF ACCESS 
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