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Fam Process. 1989 Jun;28(2):121-36.

Action methods in systemic therapy: dramatizing ideal futures and reformed pasts with couples.

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Family Institute of Cambridge, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Hospital, MA.


This article presents a method for conducting a couple session that illustrates a theoretically valid role for action techniques (as opposed to verbal methods) in post-Milan systemic interviewing. Useful in an opening meeting or in consultation, it pointedly activates client resources while deemphasizing current problems. The interview format begins with contracting for ground-rules and listing clients' strengths. Each partner then creates and enacts: a scene illustrating that partner's ideal future for the relationship; a related past painful scene (usually from childhood); and a "reform" of that scene "as it should have occurred." Both partners play multiple roles in all scenes. Last and least, each partner succinctly describes his or her view of the current problem. In the enactments, rapid shifts in time dimension and multiple novel roles played by both partners efficiently promote in the couple the release from constraining beliefs and interactional patterns that is ordinarily sought by purely verbal methods in Milan-derived systemic interviews.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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