The Dialogical Therapist (Systemic Thinking and Practice Series)
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Several good books exist about systemic understanding in therapy and a few about dialogic understanding. However, none exist that try to bridge the gap between these two world views, which have some similarities, but also a whole array of differences.
The most striking difference between these two world views is the very vantage point for observation each of them holds. According to systemic theory, we exist only in and because of the network of relationships we are embedded in. In dialogic theory, we inhabit different worlds, and we need dialogue in order to make them communicate with each other. Putting these different views together poses problems but is a good dialogic exercise as well. The author found it increasingly necessary to undertake this exercise as he felt more and more uncomfortable with the more conventional versions of Batesonian systemic wisdom he had adopted in previous years, while at the same time he could not feel convinced by some of the new ideas about dialogue.
reality any more; it is quite another to think that not having a preferred theory is “correct” and having one is “incorrect”. Postmodern therapies, at least in some of their versions, tend to create their own orthodoxy, as if the coming of postmodernism and 34 THE DIALOGICAL THERAPIST narrative were progress: within this kind of discourse it is difﬁcult to escape to such a “modern version of postmodernism” (Barbetta, 1997). The most serious risk postmodern therapists run in so doing is to
in therapy and have different implications for the therapeutic process. Text is useful in understanding the subjective dimension of experience, the meaning people ﬁnd for themselves as individuals. Context is useful in grasping some idea of the supra-personal dimension of living, of all those parts of our experience we tend to be unaware of, because they come to existence somewhere beyond our knowledge—and our conditions of knowledge. The therapist continually shifts from the one to the other, in
emerged from our interaction: namely, that the family had learnt to behave well in therapy—to make the therapist happy— bringing interesting, involving themes, but that this phenomenon was limited to the therapeutic setting, without affecting their lives outside the therapy room. After the supervision, the therapist proposes this idea to the family. The reaction obtained is that immediately the parents revert to behavioural control and to the issue of Luisa pulling her hair out. Luisa herself
relating to the therapeutic dialogue within a systemic frame in the book I wrote with Luigi Boscolo about systemic therapy with individuals (Boscolo & Bertrando, 1996). Here I will simply try to describe some ways I have of conducting—or, more precisely, of entering—the therapeutic dialogue. » Questions: I like to ask questions that I feel are essential but seem silly or too naive, like children’s questions. If a client tells me: “I felt strange—you know what I mean . . .”, I usually ask:
characteristics of my task, as happens when I have the power to decide something about the people’s lives—for example, when I work for a social or judicial agency. Here the power analysis of dialogue becomes one and the same with the analysis of the therapist’s position in the—dialogical—system, on the one hand, and her evaluation of the therapeutic relationship, on the other. About words A client comes for a session, which is part of his ongoing individual therapy. He is 38, a photographer; he