Brief strategic therapy: what it is and how it works

Many people think that going to psychotherapy involves exploring aspects of the past that have defined our personalities and even our psychological vulnerabilities. In fact, the most common stereotype of the typical psychologist is that of an individual who constantly wonders what our childhood was like, throughout a long series of sessions that become a habit, more than a habit. need.

However, this view of psychotherapy is outdated: today, most mental health professionals are keenly interested in solving the patient’s problem as presented here and now, so that they can provide quick solutions without having to. rebuild the past.

Brief strategic therapy, currently based mainly on the work of Giorgio Nardone and Paul Watzlawick, Is an example of these efforts to help patients by focusing the question on the present. In this article we will see what it is and what principles it is based on.

    What is short psychotherapy?

    To understand what brief strategic therapy is, it is important to know that it falls into a larger category, brief psychotherapy.

    The concept of brief psychotherapy is used to refer to a wide variety of therapeutic proposals the objective is to obtain concrete and objective results in the shortest possible time, So that patients can benefit from the satisfaction of their needs as soon as possible.

    However, the rationale for brief psychotherapy seems to be common sense. Isn’t it always about trying to get satisfactory results in the fastest way? In theory, the answer to this question is yes. In practice, however, it’s a bit more complicated than it looks, especially if we focus on what psychotherapy was historically.

    And it is that if today the task of applied psychology (and, consequently, of psychological therapy), yes has to do with obtaining results optimizing the use of resources and available time, there is a few decades ago it was not. so clear.

    From the perspective of psychoanalysis, for example, which became the dominant paradigm of psychotherapy in the first half of the 20th century, helping patients to delve deeply into their unconscious processes, and even to question their real reason for which he goes to therapy, that’s what he says it is. And beyond Sigmund Freud’s direct adherents, other forms of psychotherapy influenced by psychoanalysis have also adopted part of this working philosophy that psychotherapy is a process of change that is endlessly clear, if not for all.

    In opposition to these approaches, brief psychotherapy is much more pragmatic and focused on solving specific problems and defined from the first sessions through the dialogue between therapist and patient. For this reason, Brief Strategic Therapy inherits this way of working and tries to give concrete answers to very limited needs.

    What is Brief Strategy Therapy?

    Brief Strategic Therapy is a model of psychological intervention in patients developed by researchers Paul Watzlawick and Giorgio Nardone in the second half of the 20th century and is currently being studied to find out what types of psychological problems and disorders can be used. effectively.

    The working mechanism by which brief strategic therapy is governed it consists in detecting what is the vicious circle of behaviors which keeps the problem to be treated alive, in order to be able to “undo” this wheel which turns alone by its own influence on the patient’s actions, and to give this person the opportunity to do so. ” adopt new habits to start from scratch.

    This is why strategic brief therapy focus your efforts on the presentBecause if you were mainly pointing to the past, the development of the problem to be treated would always take several steps ahead of the therapist’s requests and this waste of time would increase the irrigation by not helping the patient.

    Thus, Brief Strategic Therapy requires having an overview of how the psychological disorder or behavioral dysfunction is expressed in the present, on the one hand, and a plan to intervene in the present problem without forgetting that ‘it is a vice circle in which all its parts must be taken into account immediately (hence the word “strategic”).

    Ideas and principles of this psychological intervention

    In summary, the ideas on which Brief Strategic Therapy is based are as follows.

    1. Perception is the key

    As in cognitive behavioral therapy, brief strategic therapy assumes that the patient’s interpretation of reality at least partially explains why the disorder or dysfunction to be treated arises.

    2. The problem stays with itself

    Another characteristic aspect of brief strategic therapy is that he sees what needs to be resolved as a combination of three types of behavior which are reflected in each other: behavioral models of perception, behavioral models of emotional management and inappropriate cognitive models.

    3. The problem is in the present

    As we have seen, from this type of psychotherapy it makes no sense to be obsessed with what happened in the early years of the patient’s life, But it is more convenient to know what the problem looks like in the present, because that is what needs to be solved. In addition, it will allow us to see which behaviors the patient puts into practice to try to weaken his problem have the opposite effect, reinforcing.

    The two reference researchers

    As we have seen, there are two names that stand out especially when it comes to understanding what brief strategic therapy is: Giorgio Nardone and Paul Watzlawick. Finally, let’s take a look at a few quick summaries on who they are.

    Paul Watzlawick

    Psychologist Paul Watzlawick (1921 – 2007) was one of the main representatives of radical constructivism, a philosophical current that emphasizes subjectivity and the way it creates seemingly objective phenomena. This is why he wanted to study how different ways of perceiving things affect our actions.

    In addition, Watzlawick was one of the most eminent researchers of the Institute of Mental Research of Palo Alto, California, and one of the founders of the Brief Therapy Center.

    Giorgio Nardone

    Giorgio Nardone (1958 -) ex the Director of the Strategic Therapy Center of Arezzo, Italy. For years, he collaborated with Paul Watzlawick to develop the theoretical and practical foundations of strategic brief therapy.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Griffin, E. (2012). A first look at the theory of communication. 8th. New York: McGraw-Hill.
    • Nardone G. (2016). Panic Attack Therapy: Forever Free from Pathological Fear. Herder: Barcelona.
    • Watzlawick, P. and Nardone, G. (2005). Brief strategic therapy. Barcelona: Paidós.

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