Volume 28 (2017)
Issue 1

We start 2017 following the sad deaths of Peter Lang and  John Shotter in 2016. Both of these remarkable people were fundamental to the success of Human Systems and this Editorial is followed by our brief appreciations of  them. Volume 28.1 is constituted by a sequence of articles that progressively tackle some of the most important issues confronting systemic therapy today.

The first article of this issue is, very appropriately, John  Shotter’s characteristically wide-ranging overview of his journey from Child Development “where all of what I think of as my worthwhile work on joint action and later the  dialogical started”. I cannot resist noting parallels with my own journey at that time  from a similar fascination from around 1960 with cybernetics and computer modelling  of humans, and into developmental psychology where I developed a very similar orientation of intrinsic reciprocity under the heading of ‘Transactional Adaptation’. John then goes on to chart the progressive development of his thinking away from dehumanising aspects of Psychology and describes how he has developed a comprehensive dialogical position. It is a privilege to have such a clear account of the progression of his thinking, applied to such a central concern.

In another account that draws us into the writer’s current understanding, Hugh Palmer offers developments of his thinking in terms of a ‘Fourfold vision’. He offers a way of meeting the externally imposed requirements of our work while still working ‘with grace’. Drawing on Gregory Bateson, and others including the Lang et al (1990) formulation of domains of practice, Hugh proposes an integration of data, theory, intuition and the art of therapy seen as an aesthetic process. The therapist is then seen as an integrative amalgam of scientist, theorist, humanist and artist.

Tahereh Barati offers a view of conflict as an inevitable, perhaps a necessary, aspect of relationships. Accepting this premise, focuses effort on helping clients for whom conflict has become damaging, to search for alternative ways of deliberating. Ways that allow the generation of new meanings which then create new possibilities. As we go to press the media present us with an extraordinary array of conflicting positions and ‘othering’ played out on the public arena. Tahereh’s exploration of routes to positive resolution and growth is extremely timely and perhaps puts an onus on we systemic practitioners who have these insights and practices available to us to make them more available in the wider political and public arenas.

In another important overview of a position that the authors have been developing over the past 20 years, Rudi Dallos and Arlene Vetere present their integration of systemic practice with Narratives of Attachment. Based in a systemic reading of John Bowlby’s formulation of attachment theory and classic frameworks of narrative from Jerome Bruner and others, they take a core position that narrative is an interactional process with a developmental trajectory. They elaborate this systemic interactional frame in relation to current formulations of attachment structures andrepresentational memory. Then a case example leads into therapy as a secure base which creates enough safety to allow exploration. One of the many strengths of this approach is that, through the concepts of corrective and replicative scripts, it offers practical ways of addressing the role of clients’ developmental experiences without provoking fatalism or defensiveness.

The explicitly systemic approach to applying attachment concepts is continued by  Philip Byrne and Rudi Dallos. After reviewing understandings of psychosis and the relevance of attachments to recovery they proceed to an extensive analysis of a case. Rather than just a case description they employ a qualitative research approach combining a thematic analysis with a method from discursive psychology. They demonstrate how a lens of attachment helps make sense of the conversation between a mother and daughter as they struggle to discuss the daughter’s psychosis. While in no way definitive, the research illustrates the great potential of interventions that are sensitised to attachment issues.

Finally, Alan Carr provides a major paper in which he comprehensively reviews the known factors leading to physical abuse of children. Valuable as this review is in its own right, he then proceeds to evaluate the major systemic interventions that have been applied to working with families to reduce future risk. Five well documented empirically supported systemic interventions to prevent re-exposure to abuse are described in detail and the evidence for their effectiveness is presented. The positive evidence for the ways these interventions are effective where physical abuse is the primary form of maltreatment is made readily practicable by a detailed case account. Alan also provides us with models of pathways to abuse and both risk and protective factors to consider in assessment with a useful Table listing assessment methods, goals and interventions for each target domain.

Peter Stratton
Joint Editor

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Peter Stratton Editorial Access Fulltext (free)  
Peter Stratton, Helga Hanks & Kyriaki Polychroni In Memory of Peter Lang Access Fulltext (free)  
Peter Stratton, Helga Hanks & Kyriaki Polychroni Appreciation to John Shotter Access Fulltext (free)  
John Shotter The Almost Irresistible Tendency to De-Humanize Human Pratices - and How to Re-Humanize them Again Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Hugh Palmer Fourfould Vision in Practice: Data, Theory, Intuition and the Art of Therapy  Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Tahereh Barati Reconstructing Conflict Narratives  Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Rudi Dallos & Arlene Vetere Systemic Practice and Narratives of Attachment  Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Philip Byrne & Rudi Dallos Using an Attachment and Discursive Framework to Make Sense of How a Mother and Daughter Make Sense of Psychosis  Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Alan Carr A Systemic Approach for Preventing Re-Exposure to Physical Abuse  Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Translated Abstracts Bulgarian, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish Free Access  
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