We are Jennifer Andrews, Ph.D. and David Clark, Ph.D. We practiced, taught and trained postmodern family therapy at graduate schools in Southern California for long enough to have changed as much as we have. As part of developing our teaching curriculum we recognized the need for videos that presented Solution-Focused, Narrative, and Collaborative Language Systems therapies, the new and unique developing methods. Our intention was to bring together videos of the therapists who have initiated these newer methods.
We began by videotaping clinical sessions of many of the originators of these models, and this was the start of Masterswork Productions. Our first DVDs were clinical interviews with Harry Goolishian, Michael White, Tom Andersen and Insoo Kim Berg. As we started to build a video library many of our colleagues wanted access to these materials and we expanded our library to include Eve Lipchik, Harlene Anderson, David Epston, Jill Freedman and Gene Combs, Mark Mitchell, Zoy Kazan, Bill O'Hanlon, John Walter, Mark Mitchell, John Winslade, Gerald Monk and Steve Gilligan.
We built a new series called "Conversations In Social Construction", discussions that are ideal for library collections for Marriage and Family Therapy, Sociology, Psychology, Communication, and Organizational Behavior Departments. Many of these DVDs contain confidential material and are meant for viewing only by those in the human services field. It has been our goal to create learning materials that demonstrate actual clinical sessions and provide additional information about the method being used, so that they constitute a complete class. We continue to add DVDs to this collection and look forward to sharing them with you.
INTRODUCTION TO POSTMODERN IDEAS
While the pioneering concepts of Bowen and Minuchin still guide powerful and effective ways to work in Family Therapy, they rely on the expert knowledge of a therapist who designs a treatment plan and knows the goal of the therapy. The description of a family therapist’s perspective has recently expanded to include therapies that are focused on language and meaning delivered by therapists who do not consider themselves as experts on the family, or as separate from the family system.
Family therapies that evolved after World War II, began to see problems as arising from the system an individual was part of (interpersonal) rather than from internal problems that developed from an early age within the individual (intrapersonal). A “family system” was defined as the related group of persons being treated and the therapist, or therapist and supervisor, were seen as a separate “treating system”. The family system was to be viewed objectively and interventions were designed to impact that system to promote and support change. This traditional position which included Bowen and Minuchin was referred to as “first order family therapy”. A major shift occurred when the therapist system and the family system became seen as both existing within one system. The therapist was no longer the separate, objective source of knowledge about the family but a part of a system in which all members were vulnerable to change. This was referred to as “second order” family therapy.
This was also a time when other ideas from other countries were also circulating. Ideas about language from Ludwig von Wittgenstein, ideas about power from Michel Foucault, about culture from Clifford Geertz, about deconstruction from Jacques Derridas. Different constellations of these ideas were joined with Bateson's contribution and basically these combinations of ideas underlie the more recent models that have come to be called, "post-modern" or "post structural" therapy. Through his early writing it can be seen that Steve deShazer found Wittgenstein's writing about the role of language and meaning compatible with Bateson's ideas. The resulting method that he initiated was "Solution-Focused" Therapy. Michael White's early writing demonstrates his foundation with Bateson's ideas and his move toward the development of "Narrative" Therapy as he added the influence of Foucault, (power) Geertz (culture) and Derridas (deconstruction). Harry Goolishian of the Houston-Galveston Institute combined Bateson with influences from the cognitive biology of Chilean biologists Maturana and Varela. This merged with his strong background in hermeneutics and the emerging social construction writings of Gergen and Shotter to develop the "Collaborative Language Systems". Each of these methods has adopted a unique combination of the currently circulating ideas and developed a unique method of treatment. While there are significant differences between them, there are some collective similarities. They share a view of clients that has shifted from a pathologizing description and tend to see their clients as having strengths and resources. They have changed the focus of therapy talk from rehashing the past to paying attention to what people want in the future. They do this conversationally by asking questions about what people want. Generally, they see people as having greater potential for creating the lives that they would prefer to live. We have been tracking the development of these more recent models of therapy and have documented the work of much of what has been unfolding. We offer clinical sessions within Milan Systemic, Solution-Focused, Narrative and Collaborative Language Systems and we have many of the sessions presented with the pioneers who have been bringing forth these models. We also offer a "conversations" series that conducts interviews with many of the people who have been writing the seminal work in Social Construction. We invite you to look over the body of work that we have documented on this website. The collection is a work in progress and is in the process of growing in a parallel process with the field of family therapy. We welcome comments and suggestions from you.