By Michael P. Nichols
First released in 1988. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Additional resources for The Self in the System
Constructive change occurs when individual family members develop new perspectives that lead them to new actions. Therefore, therapeutic interventions must reach and motivate individuals. Because the actions of family members are coordinated in patterned interactions, therapists can sometimes effect change while thinking only in terms of interaction, of process instead of persons. Even then, however, the interventions succeed or fail to the extent that they mobilize persons to think and act differently.
Regardless of the conflicting effects of social relationships, at times a person acts in part from personal habit and for private reasons. An alcoholic and his drink, an overeater and her junk food, these people may be subject to a destructive social context, but they also have private battles, which only they can win or lose. Less clear is the case of a neurotic and his or her anxiety. Is this a bodily based, asocial, psychic tension or is someone making the person anxious? We are inherently social; we are embedded in a matrix of relationships.
Reframing and paradoxical directives are obvi- 42 The Self in the System ously manipulative devices, but so too are the interpretations of psychoanalysts, the personal disclosures of experientialists, and the enactments of structural family therapists. Some of these interventions are so powerful and clever that we may be beguiled into becoming interventionists instead of therapists. Inherent in our more cunning techniques is the lure of the shortcut—anything to avoid grappling with persons and their enormous difficulty in changing.
The Self in the System by Michael P. Nichols