Systemic therapy: what is it and on what principles is it based?

the systematic approach is the application of general systems theory in any discipline: education, organizations, psychotherapy, etc.

This approach is presented as a systematic and scientific way of approaching and representing reality seen in a holistic and integrative perspective, Where the important thing is the relationships and the components that emerge from them. From there emerges systemic therapy.

Therefore, their study and practice place special importance on relationship and communication in any interacting group, understood as a system. This approach also extends to individuals, taking into account the different systems that make up their context.

Systemic therapy: another way of doing therapy

the systemic therapy understands issues from a contextual framework and focuses on understanding and changing relationship dynamics (family, work, etc.).

The roles and behaviors of people in these contexts are understood to be determined by the unwritten rules of this system and the interaction between its members.

Understanding Disorders in a Multicausal Way

Until then, in the field of psychotherapy, mental illness was understood in linear terms, with historical and causal explanations of suffering. The cause is first investigated and then passed on to treatment. The systemic therapy model (widely used in family therapy), observes the phenomena in a circular and multicausal manner, therefore, linear markers cannot be established. To give an example, within a family, members behave and react in unpredictable ways as every action and reaction continually changes in the nature of the context.

Paul Watzlawick was a pioneer in the distinction between linear causation and circular causation, to explain with her the different possible repetitive interaction models and to mark a before and after in the interpretation of difficulties in personal relationships. The circular view of problems is marked by the way in which the behavior of one individual influences the actions of another, which in turn also influences the first.

Therefore, systemic therapy offers a circular and interactive view, Within a system or group that has its rules of transformation and self-control through feedback phenomena to maintain a state of equilibrium. The components of the system come into contact through communication, one of the keys to this therapy.

The beginnings of systemic therapy

Systemic therapy arose in the 1930s as support for professions in different fields: psychiatry, psychology, pedagogy and sexology. Although the movement begins in Germany thanks to Hirschfeld, Popenoe is the first to apply it in the United States. Emily Mudd later developed the first family therapy assessment program in Philadelphia.

John Bell, his most popular reference

Many claim that the father of modern family therapy is John bell, Professor of Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, because in 1951 he performed joint therapy with the whole family of a very aggressive young man and achieved excellent results. That is why, in numerous bibliographic citations, they mark this moment as the beginning of systemic therapy.

Since then, many have applied and disseminated the principles of systemic therapy in different fields. For example Nathan Ackerman, in child psychiatry, Theodore Lidz specialized in working with families of schizophrenic patients and was the first to explore the role of parents in the schizophrenia process. Bateson, who was an anthropologist and philosopher, studied the family structure of the tribes of the islands of Bali and New Zealand with his wife Margaret Mead.

Brief therapy is developed from systemic therapy

Since the early 1970s, it was suggested that the systemic model could be applied to a single individual even if it did not help the whole family, And this supposes a development of brief therapy of Palo Alto MRI.

Brief systemic therapy is a set of intervention procedures and techniques aimed at helping individuals, couples, families or groups mobilize their resources to achieve their goals as quickly as possible possible, and has its origin in systemic therapy.

In the mid-1970s, a group of Paul Watzlawick, Arthur Bodin, John Weakland and Richard Fisch established the “Brief Therapy Center”. This group developed what is now known around the world as the Palo Alto model, driving a radical change in psychotherapy, developing a short, simple, effective and efficient model to help people effect change.

The practice of systemic therapy

Systemic therapy is characterized by a practical, rather than analytical, problem-solving approach. Regardless of the diagnosis of who is sick or has the problem (for example, who has a problem with aggression), rather it focuses on identifying dysfunctional patterns within the behavior of the group of people (Family, employees, etc.), in order to directly redirect these behaviors.

Systemic therapists help systems find balance. Unlike other forms of therapy, for example psychoanalytic therapy, the aim is to practically address current patterns of the relationship, rather than the causes, as in this example may be the subconscious impulses of childhood trauma. .

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