Lact - Palo Alto School Representative

Palo Alto School Representative

Center for training, intervention and research

Strategic systemic approach and hypnosis

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      Gregoire Vitry: 

      "To open this session, as a prelude to the Scientific Committee, I propose an intervention by Wendel Ray who presents an article by Don Jackson and John Weakland on family therapy.

      This is an article based on a 1961 study. The two authors present in the same way the structure of family therapy as it was conducted with 18 families of schizophrenic patients. "

      Wendel Ray: 

      “Hello everyone. It is my pleasure to meet you again and to talk to you about these two very important articles.

      I am speaking to you from the archives of Don Jackson; it is something very impressive and what I am certain of is that it is the most important archive concerning Gregory Bateson's research in Palo Alto.

      Speaking earlier with Grégoire Vitry, we were wondering where to start the story and we said to ourselves that it would be best to start with the report, the first in which we talked about transforming theory into therapy; this is called joint family therapy.

      This historical review is the first report by Gregory Bateson's team; he explains how theory became therapy. The title is an important title, it already introduces the notion of "the whole family together". I try, when I work with my students here at the university, to define what a good therapist is. In 1961, there was no family therapy and this report triggered a real tidal wave.

      This article, when it came out, was one of the 40/60 articles written by Palo Alto. It reflects the thinking of the whole team because everyone has contributed to building up the group's assets. This paper is very dense; it is less than 10 pages and each time you read a line, you have to think about what it means.

      First, he describes family homeostasis and the double bind. They provide a framework that allows them to think about what is happening with hospitalized patients, to understand what exactly is happening with the families they have treated and the patients.

      They are very precise in the way they wrote; they found themselves, almost by chance, receiving families together. They also say that as far as they know all their colleagues, no one has thought about the patient until now in the family context, in the interactions here and now, which are happening in their environment and in the context here.

      It is not by chance in fact since Bateson and his teams were cultural anthropologists, and Jackson being a psychiatrist, had worked with others on the interactions.

      Nobody was doing that at the time; they weren't looking for what was going on inside an individual but were making the link in relation to the behavior between people, namely communication.

      They have moved from abstention to observation; so they said to the families, come come, so we'll see how things go between you.

      I cannot emphasize enough the transformation that took place from this article and the two themes that carried it, on the one hand family homeostasis and the double bind. And this is going to be the introduction to brief therapy.

      I would like to read to you now 2 parts of the article in a very very precise way and show you how these two parts of the article are going to be at the origin of the fundamental do of the brief therapy of the MRI and the others.

      Here is the first: 

      The symptom makes sense when we see the interactions within a family.

      This article is about influence, interaction and inter-relation which can be easily observed directly. 

      And that's exactly John Weakland's position because that's exactly what he said in 1974 that started brief therapy.

      And in 1982, when there was the second book on the tactics of change, he said "it's really worth making that distinction in the orientations and making them very explicit, which will help explain why we are doing what we do." And this will also allow us to put our therapy next to others to compare them. And, from there, in the article, they come to emphasize joint family therapy. And what I like about this article is that they do exactly what they do in theory, practice and give you the results.

      And so it is interesting to take this article and compare it for example to more recent articles and to see the evolutions since 1974. We can not only observe what has changed over time, but above all what is important, it is to look at what has remained stable.

      And this allows us to tell ourselves that when we identify a repetitive mode of interaction between two people, by accepting this basic prism, we can understand what the attempted solutions are and abandon them. And also when two people are changing something that is bothering them, we can see them changing.

      The symptoms make sense.

      This article is about the influence, the interaction between 2 people that can be observed in prison and this is exactly John Weakland's position because this is what he said in 1982, namely that it is really worth make explicit the why of what we do.

      Teresa Garcia

      "A question: I would like to ask you what interest did the people who read this professional article have at the time and what impact did it have?." 

      Wendel Ray

      The article has been published in very prestigious psychiatric journals; it was the first time that we talked about family therapy. He had a lot of impact. Many psychiatrists have come to them for the very first time.

      There are archives on the subject with an incredible quantity of exchanges on it in the universities of LA Stanford and Bateson in Santa Cruz.

      We have to talk about an article "the cybernetics of the self" which deals with alcoholism; it is a seminal article and in this article he makes some very short but extremely important quotes.

      "We will take these ideas very seriously." He links it to the Alcoholics Anonymous base and he says "I've been working on 2 whole courses just on this line: 'we're going to take these ideas very seriously' and that's what's happened since the article was written .

      If you focus your attention on what is happening now between 2 people, it leads you to look at the interaction in the same way as what we do in the brief therapy center today.


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      A team of more than
      50 trainers in France
      and abroad

      of our students satisfied with
      their training year at LACT *

      International partnerships

      The quality certification was issued under
      the following category of actions: Training action


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