The process of writing this book was, for the three of us, an opportunity to change and grow and integrate parts of our experience of doing family therapy and individual therapy. We came to understand explicitly how the communications skills we use in those contexts applied to writing this book together. Taking three very different models of the world, three different types of background, we found a way to use those same communication skills to communicate with each other and then finally to translate the communication we found effective among the three of us onto paper. So, we wanted to tell those of you who are reading this book that this book contains some of the ways which we found delightful and useful to use to communicate not only with families in the context of therapy, but also with each other in the process of writing. The very same patterns that we identify in this book as patterns of effective communication with members of a family in the context of'a therapy session are precisely the patterns of communication that we used to write this book. And it gives us great pleasure, and is a continuing delight, to find ways of being effective in communicating with ourselves, and with our other colleagues in writing this book. Hopefully, we'll communicate to you some of the excitement and joy we have in the process of communication. For us, communication means experiencethe ability to be in touch with what we are feelingto be able to see clearly what is available at a point in timeto be able to hear with precision the sounds of life. These skills, which we are constantly developing in ourselves, were the essential ingredients in writing this book.
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CHANGING WITH FAMILIES
About This Book and Us
The process of writing this book was an opportunity for the three of us to change, to grow and to integrate parts of our experience of doing family and individual therapy. We came to understand explicitly how the communication skills we use in those contexts applied to the writing of this book together. We took three very different models of the world three different types of backgrounds and, finding a way to use our common skills to communicate with each other, we were able to put onto paper the knowledge we had gained. So we want to tell our readers some of the ways which we found delightful and useful to communicate, not only with families in the context of therapy, but also with each other in the process of writing this book. The very same patterns which we identify in this volume as patterns of effective communication with members of a family in the context of a therapy session are precisely the patterns of communication which we used to write this book together. We believe that our ability to be congruent in our communication is a skill we carry with us throughout our lives both in our communication in therapy and in our other inter-personal relationships as well. It gives us great pleasure and is a continuing delight to find ways of being more effective in communicating with ourselves, with our colleagues in writing this book, and, hopefully, in communicating to you some of the excitement and joy we have experienced in the process of communication. For us, communication means experience the ability to be in touch with what we are feeling, to see clearly what is available at a given point in time, and to hear with precision the sounds of life.
These skills, which we are constantly developing in ourselves, were the essential ingredients in the writing of this book. We want to emphasize that our desire in creating this book is to offer people-helpers some of the tools, patterns, ways of developing new choices with families which, up to this point in time, we have used only among ourselves. We invite and encourage each of you as we will continue to do to use these skills as an opportunity to find new possibilities for communication for yourselves and for the families with whom you work. We believe there are entire worlds of ways of being effective and creative entirely new dimensions about human communication in our lives which we have yet to discover. Deeply,
This book is about people who hurt and about the people who want to help them go beyond that hurt.
The world is full of good intentions and equally well populated with the evidence that these intentions do not always come to fruition. Parents want the best for their children, children for their parents, therapists for their clients, and clients for their therapists. How does it happen, then, that these very well-intentioned people have so many relationships of pain and trouble, when the opposite is what they are intending? Our belief is that something occurs which is outside of the awareness and control of either person a missing piece. We believe that this missing piece can be added, learned about and fully used by everyone. This book is about our ideas of doing just that with families helping them to find this missing piece for themselves.
It is hard for us to conceive how one can really experience himself as a responsible person without a thorough understanding of the difference between what people
Our approach assumes that the therapist in his person is the chief tool for initiating change. Our view is that the therapist models that which he expects to change. We are speaking specifically of the
It is our belief that at this point in time the evolvement of the condition of being human is only in its infancy. Therefore, it behooves all of us to become explorers and not judges; we see ourselves as making a contribution toward the further education of being human. As a matter of fact, we expect that we will come out of each of our experiences with other people a little changed. If we dont, then we feel that we will have fallen into the category of judging.
What we are presenting here is a model of the step-by-step process which fills in the missing pieces between what people intend in their communication and what the outcome of that communication actually is. Our method is to create new experiences instead of working to eliminate the old ones. Many therapeutic models of the past seem to have been built around the idea that there is an ideal person and, thus, the concepts were to be used as a way of altering the personality to fit the "ideal" mold. We believe that there is no universal model of a human being; we believe that each person has his own model of his own ideal. We are glad of it, and this uniqueness is what we strive for in our work. This is consistent with the biological fact that each human being is truly unique.
We want to emphasize that the model for family therapy which we present here is designed to create experience. It is our belief that much time and effort is wasted creating models which people then use to replace experience. The families the people who come to therapists for help are then squeezed into the categories contained in the model, rather than being sensed and responded to creatively. We offer our model as a way to assist you to fully participate in the moving experience of changing with families, participating in the process of growth, of creating experience, of the family's pain and the family's joy. Our model, essentially, is a way of helping people-helpers to tune themselves in to the ongoing processes for growth of the families with whom they are working a way of seeing, hearing, feeling, sensing, experiencing and responding clearly and creatively to the process of communication and change in family therapy.
Our conclusion from our experience and from our observation of the people we have known is that they have learned five personal "unfreedoms" which fetter them and bind them and which are mistakenly called
(1) The freedom to
(2) The freedom to
(3) The freedom to
(4) The freedom to
(5) The freedom to
When I can
When I can
And can take
When I can
And can get
Then I am in a position to cope inventively with the situation outside of myself and the life inside me successfully
This book is our effort to translate people unfreedoms into freedoms.
In the following pages we will present our particular view of the manifold and exciting field of family therapy. As with any complex area of human behavior, the ability of therapists to perform family therapy far outruns their ability to explicitly understand and communicate to others what they
The way that we hope to accomplish these goals is by creating an explicit model or map for our behavior in family therapy. By explicit model we simply mean a guide for behavior which can be used by anyone wishing to work as an effective family therapist. This guide for doing family therapy will be explicit if it presents the patterns necessary for a therapist to work in family therapy effectively and creatively in a step-by-step manner which makes it possible for the therapist to learn and to use these patterns. As we understand it, models or maps for behavior are not true or false, accurate or inaccurate, but, rather, they are to be judged as
The first task which we need to accomplish is that of finding some common experience with which each of us, as family therapists, can identify. If we can succeed in this, then we can all begin together the journey to a better understanding of our work. If we can find this experience, then we can have a mutual reference point, or point of departure, from which we can build the model so that it will be useful for all of us. In a field as complex as family therapy, there are so many places from which we could start that it is difficult for us to choose among them. However, we have decided to begin with the patterns of verbal communication the patterns by which the therapist and the members of the family communicate with one another in words. This is not a judgment that words are more important than, or have some priority over, other forms of communication such as body movements, tone of voice, etc., but simply a place a set of experiences which we all share and from which we can begin.
In order to assist each of you as you read this book to connect the words before you on this page with the actual feelings, sights, sounds, smells, tastes with the excitement of working with a real family in your experience we will proceed by presenting excerpts from transcripts to illustrate the patterns in our experience which we wish to most vividly model. Finally, as we begin, we would like to remind you to identify the patterns from the transcripts in this first part of the book; this part is designed simply to give you practice in identifying the patterns. Once we have identified a pattern, we will not identify it again each time that it occurs, but, rather, we will continue to move on to other patterns. In Part II, we will sort these patterns into natural groups which will help you to organize your experience in family therapy. We suggest that you simply sit back, breathe comfortably and use your skills to connect the words before you with your own experience.
PATTERNS OF EFFECTIVE FAMILY THERAPY LEVEL I
There are several important things which an effective family therapist assumes when he or she walks into a session with a family. First, the fact that the family has come to family therapy is a direct statement that they have hopes that they can change. This is true in our experience even when the family members are not aware of it. In fact, even in the extreme case of court referrals, the family has made a choice to come to therapy rather than selecting jail. Their presence in therapy, then, is a direct reflection of their hopes about continuing as a family, and that they believe at some level that they are capable of change.
Second, we assume, by the fact that the family is in our presence for therapy, that they recognize at some level that they need assistance in making those changes. In our experience, we have found it useful to assume that the family has the resources necessary to make those changes, and our task, then, is to help them tap those resources. Thus, one of our major goals is to assist the family members to recognize and accept the resources already in the family system, although they may be presently unacknowledged and untapped. The therapist will work to develop rapport and mutual trust with the family as a necessary first step in making changes. Without trust, no real risks will be attempted and no real changes will occur.
Third, by accepting the particular therapist, the family is accepting that person as a guide to lead them in changing. The therapist serves as a model for the family. More specifically, the therapist offers a model of openness the freedom to select from what is available that which is relevant at the time and place for the therapist and for the family. This requires that the therapist be in touch with his own processes, as well as with the needs of the family. This modeling occurs not only at the conscious level but also at the subliminal level, i.e., the messages carried by the therapist's body posture, voice tone, etc., serve as a model for the family members.
We begin with an account of an opening session of family therapy. The therapist has just introduced himself and learned the names of the family members. Join us in a walk through the therapy session in which we will illuminate some of the ways by which the desired phenomena appear. We wish to point out to the reader that the following transcript is partial and fragmented. The quoted portion dealing with Dave is only a part of the full transcript. The therapist uses the same patterns and takes the same time and care with each family member in turn. To enable us to present these patterns in a clear way, we have left out sections of the transcripts.
There are several important patterns in this short transcript which emerge clearly. First, the therapist assumes or presupposes that:
(1) There are things which the family wants to change.
(2) The family went through the process of deciding to come to therapy.
(3) The process of change has already begun. (. . .
Notice that the therapist does not ask the family members
By the skillful use of language assumptions (presuppositions), the therapist can assist the family in focusing upon the issues which are most important for achieving what they want in the therapeutic session.
We have found it to be very important in our experience to understand that the family therapist needs to make contact with each of the family members individually. The therapist must be careful not to assume that any one member of the family is a spokesperson for the rest of the family. The therapist makes a series of contracts for change one for each family member. In this way, the therapist explicitly recognizes the integrity and independence of each member of the family. The basis of the art of family therapy is the therapist's ability to integrate the independent growth needs of each family member with the integrity of their family system. In exploring the desired changes with the individuals, the therapist makes skillful use of language assumptions (presuppositions). The specific language assumptions used by the therapist will be effective only to the extent that they are congruent with the growth needs of the family.
A second important pattern illustrated by the foregoing transcript is the delicate way in which the therapist begins the process of gathering information. There are several patterns which the therapist uses in the transcript. He begins with a statement about himself
The particular language form used in this questioning is called
One of the choices which the therapist has when he receives no verbal response to the embedded questions is to select one of the family members and to identify him by name, requesting his response. Again, notice that, even after identifying the family member, the therapist is delicate in his questioning, using the embedded question first,
the therapist asks Dave a question,
Again, later, after Dave has responded, the therapist uses the same form the polite command
The important thing about this pattern is that, although what the therapist says has the
This sentence has the form of a simple question which requires only a
The use of the yes/no form of a question in cases such as this is the polite way of making a direct request. Again, the therapist, by skillfully employing this pattern, leaves the family member maximum freedom to respond.
We return, now, to the transcript.
The therapist has begun the task of coming to understand how Dave wants to change. He will repeat this process with each of the family members. In order to be effective in family therapy, the therapist needs to understand both what resources the family presently acknowledges and uses, and also on what expectations the family can agree the desired state of the family system toward which they agree to work. Each and every verbal and non-verbal exchange with family members gives the therapist information to understand the present state of the family system and at the same time it gives the family members an opportunity to learn. By skillful communication, the therapist, from the very beginning, helps the family members to develop a reachable goal for their changes the desired state. In this particular case, the therapist is asking the male parent what he wants what changes in the family would be acceptable for him, what he wants for himself and for his family. Dave attempts to respond; he says,
The therapist's ears need to be tuned, to be open to detect those parts of the verbal messages which do not pick out specific parts of the speaker's world of experience. If the therapist is willing not to assume that he understands the generalities which he hears, he can make some meaning of them. Specifically, rather than assuming that his concept of the generalities being spoken is the same as the family member intends to communicate, the therapist can take the time and energy to determine more precisely the message from the person with whom he is working. The therapist may accomplish this in a graceful and sincere way by asking the other person to specify exactly to what he is referring when he uses those generalities.
It is important for us to emphasize that, while the therapist is using the pattern of language assumptions
he subtly presents his interpretation of what the family's presence for therapy means to him namely, that their task is to make changes. This give-and-take process is an
In each of Dave's responses, the therapist can identify a language form which fails to specify for the therapist some particular part of Dave's experience the form:
Here the therapist is systematically assisting Dave to identify what he wants. At the same time, the therapist is providing the family members with an effective way of communicating. When the therapist hears something which he is unable to connect with his own experience, rather than let unsuccessful communication slide by or pretend that he really understands or that he can read Dave's mind, he simply identifies the portion of the sentence which he could not understand and asks about it. Any assumptions need to be checked out. The therapist, by demanding clear communication, gives the family the message that he takes seriously both his ability to understand and their ability to communicate, and that he is interested in
The therapist is continuing to assist Dave in coming to understand what, specifically, it is that he wants for himself and his family. One of the most important patterns of which we are aware is the therapist's ability to sense what is missing in a family system. This capability to discern what is missing is critical in assisting the family in changing, and it applies at many different levels of behavior. For example, one thing which we, specifically, check for is the freedom of each family member to ask for what he wants. If that freedom is missing for any member of the family, then we work to find ways for him to gain that freedom. This is an example of something important which is missing at a high level of patterning. The process of identifying missing parts of experience and assisting the one with whom you are working in recovering them or completing imperfect experiences of making things whole is one of the most powerful interventions which we, as therapists, have available to us. The very process of making things whole, whether at a verbal or a nonverbal level, has a profound physical and neurological effect upon the person involved.
At the verbal level of patterning, Dave has produced a series of sentences, each of which has something missing. The therapist is responding systematically, first identifying that something is missing and then asking directly for it. For example, Dave says,
As the therapist listens to this sentence, he tries to make sense out of it. He hears Dave describe his experience with the verb
The amazing thing is that, even when the sentence which the listener (in this case, the therapist) hears fails to include one or the other of these pieces, he knows by his intuitions about language that both of the pieces are implied. For example, when the therapist or any native speaker of English hears the following sentence, he understands that more is implied than is actually present in the sentence.
One of the temptations for the therapist is to fill in his own understanding of what has been deleted, thereby losing the opportunity to learn what's missing for the family member.
Since the therapist can use his own language intuitions to determine whether anything is missing, he can listen and systematically respond, asking for the portions which are implied but not expressed. Extracting from the transcript, we have,
By listening carefully and making use of the intuitions he has about his language, the therapist can systematically assist Dave in understanding what he has deleted.
Words carry meanings. We need to understand that these words are idiosyncratic to the person using them, and there is no guarantee that the same meaning will be understood by the other person. So checking out is always necessary.
When each of us uses our language system to describe our experience, we select certain words to carry the meaning to the listener. For example, we use nouns to describe certain parts of our experience. As we mentioned previously, when we use nouns which have no referential index relative to a specific part of the listener's experience, we fail to communicate with as much clarity as is possible. Similarly, when we (albeit, unconsciously) select verbs to describe the processes or relationships which we experience, we have choices about how specific we will be, and, consequently, how clear our communication will be. For example, if I select the verb
We can say, then, that the verb
As the therapist goes about the task of assisting the family members in understanding what they seek, he sets a model for clear communication. In the verbal exchange, he can check the verbs which the family members use to describe their experience, requesting that they specify these process descriptions until he can make sense out of their narrations. Again, extracting from the transcript, we have,
By systematically insisting that he be able to understand the messages from individual family members, the therapist is setting an example for clear communication as well as teaching the family members specific ways to clear up their verbal communication.
feel kinda funny.
Human speech is one door to understanding between the speaker and the one to whom it is spoken. Understanding how human speech reflects this is an essential tool for therapists. We will, therefore, go into detail to show how this concept is illustrated in this interview.
There are several important patterns in this portion of the transcript. First of all, Dave has begun to use a language pattern known as
So, when the therapist (or any native speaker of English) hears the sentence,
he can, by checking his intuitions about the meaning, discover that there is more implied by the sentence than actually appears on the surface. Specifically, we have,
In the example we are presenting, the linguistic process of using a noun for a verb description (the process of nominalization) also includes the process of deleting the information associated with the original verb description.
In the transcript, Dave uses two nominalizations,
Notice that the therapist is systematic in his responses; he identifies the nominalizations, and
(a) Turns the noun word back into a verb word:
(b) Assumes that Dave is one of the deleted parts of the nominalization:
(c) Asks for the other part of the nominalization which has been deleted:
There are two ways which we have found very useful in our work to systematically identify and challenge nominalizations in the communications of family members in the context of family therapy. First, people are unable to cope when they represent
Secondly, when a family comes to us for assistance, they are usually able to agree that they seek some nominalization such as
Many times in our experience, using the verbal techniques of de-nominalization, a family member will begin with one nominalization and, in the process of connecting it with specific experiences, will supply another nominalization as one of the missing pieces. For example,
Notice what has happened here: Dave uses a nominalization,
nominalization. The therapist alertly applies the verbal de-nominalization again:
This kind of cycle is one which we find frequently in our family therapy work. By systematically applying the verbal de-nominalization technique to each nominalization, the therapist succeeds in assisting the family member in identifying by exactly what process he is perceiving or failing to perceive what he is experiencing. This process of cyclic de-nominalization (by tying the word description to things which are in the "real" world of experience) allows both the therapist and the family members to understand the specific experiences which they can create together to continue the process of change and growth.
A second important pattern in this portion of the transcript is contained in the statements which Dave makes:
These two sentences have the same form each of them claims that there is something
Linguists have identified a certain class of sentences such as:
Within the context of therapy, we have found an extension of this linguistic class very useful. Specifically, any sentence such as:
We understand that these sentences may be a valid description of a person's experience. However, what we are saying is that the Cause-Effect relationship which each of these sentences seems to require is not necessary. We have determined in working with people in therapy that, all too frequently, their pain and lack of freedom and choice are connected with parts of their experience which they represent in the Cause-Effect semantically ill-formed pattern we have just identified. This, typically, takes the form:
We have found it useful in our work to assist people in having a choice about whether a particular movement, act, smile, word, etc., from someone else necessarily
We return, now, to the transcript.
One of the ways in which people in families create pain and unhappiness for themselves is by assuming that they can come to know the thoughts and feelings of another person without that other person's directly communicating those thoughts and feelings. We call this
Extracting from the transcript, we have:
In these two exchanges, we can identify both the Mind-Reading pattern and one of the ways in which the therapist can usefully challenge this process by specifically asking for a detailed description of the process by which the person (Dave, in this case) obtained the information he claims to have. This process (Mind Reading) is one of the most tragic ways by which well-intentioned people in a family can distort their communication and cause pain. We realize that it is possible to understand a great deal about the inner experience of another person without his having to describe it in detail in words. One of the skills which we continue to sharpen in our work as therapists is the ability to identify and understand another person's experience through the analogue (nonverbal) messages which they present to us. The tone of voice, the posture, movements of the hands and feet, the tempo of speech are all important messages which we each utilize in our work. We accept for ourselves the rule of explicitly checking our comprehension of non-verbal messages rather than basing further communication upon our assumed understanding of those messages. What we have noticed time and again is that, under stress, people tend to hallucinate the inner experience of others and to act upon those hallucinations without checking first to find out if they match the actual experience of the other person. Once this process of Mind Reading without checking begins, clear communication becomes difficult and finally collapses, and we see a family in pain. In our experience, the therapist's ability to identify and effectively challenge the Mind-Reading pattern is one of the most important interventions in assisting a family to move from a rigid, closed system to one which allows freedom to grow and change.
Closely associated with the general pattern of Mind Reading is another important pattern, that of
Dave is presenting us with an excellent illustration of the way in which people calibrate their experience. Dave has decided that, whenever he sees Marcie looking at him in a certain way (not specified), she is depending upon him; she is experiencing an inner state which he labels "dependency." In the second example, Dave has decided that, whenever Marcie narrows her eyes and leans forward, she is unhappy with him. What is common to both instances is that Dave has equated a piece of Marcie's observable behavior with her total communication and then has labeled it an inner experience.
What we are illustrating here is that people cause themselves pain and difficulty by attaching a word (label) to some part of their experience and mistaking the label for the experience. One powerful phenomenon we have seen in our work is the fact that people pay particular attention to different portions of their experience and, subsequently, may come to attach the same label to a very different experience. For example, for people who use their visual skills most extensively, the word
The second response which the therapist makes is to challenge the Mind-ReadingComplex-Equivalence pattern in the family by turning to the other family member involved in this case, Marcie and asking her to state whether or not Dave's Mind ReadingComplex Equivalence was accurate. As the transcript shows, Dave was hallucinating. (We use this word [hallucinate] when we are referring to ideas which are "made up" when factual data are not available. Our brain must make
you do . . .
In this portion of the transcript, the therapist has made a request to Dave to try something new, something which runs counter to the calibrated communication, involving the Mind Reading and Complex Equivalence, which is going on between him and Marcie. Dave's response is to state that it is impossible to do what the therapist has asked:
the two responses by the therapist assist Dave in extending the limits of his model to continue the process of change toward what he wants for himself and Marcie.
Next, we list some of the most common words and phrases in the English language which identify limits in a person's model and, opposite them, the two verbal challenges we have found most effective in helping to change these limits.
The therapist's challenges to these cue words and phrases, which identify the limits of the family's model of what is possible for them, have, in our experience, been extremely effective in assisting in the process of change.
Closely associated with modal operators is the type of exchange illustrated by the following part of the transcript:
Often, when using verbal patterns to assist the family members in changing, we have received the reply,
We continue now with the transcript. Essentially, in the section we skip, the therapist continued to work with Dave, assisting him in understanding just what it is that he wants for himself and for his family. The therapist accomplished this, primarily, by insuring that he understands what Dave is telling him; he insists that Dave communicate in language without nominalizations, deletions, relatively unspecified verbs, or nouns without referential indices. We begin the transcript again just after the therapist has turned his attention to Marcie, the mother/wife member of the family.
The therapist is illustrating a very important principle here: He has directed his verbal communication to one of the family members. During this period, the other members of the family have had an opportunity to observe and to listen to the process of communication between the therapist and Dave. The therapist now asks Marcie to comment on her experience of the exchange between Dave and the therapist. By requesting her comments (by using embedded questions and polite commands [conversational postulates]), the therapist accomplishes several things:
(a) He gives each member of the family the message that, not only does he accept comments on his behavior and the ongoing process of communication, but he, in fact, encourages them, that he takes seriously their ability to understand and make sense out of their expeiience and is interested in knowing what that experience is to them.
(b) He requests that another member of the family present him with the results of her ability to make sense out of a complex piece of family interaction.
The therapist pointedly requests that Marcie present her learnings and understanding of the interaction between Dave and himself. This is one important way that the therapist may explicitly present the message that, although he has been directing his verbal communication to Dave, all of the family members are involved at the same time; they are all participants in the ongoing process of communication. Secondly, when the therapist encourages Marcie to comment about her experience of the Dave-therapist interaction, he is asking her to repeat a learning experience with which we are all familiar. As children, each of us learned a great deal of what we understand about the world by observing and listening to our parents and other adults communicate. This time, the context openly invites people to "listen in," in contrast to much of childhood's experience in which this was tacitly forbidden. By explicitly repeating this situation, the therapist provides an opportunity for Marcie to up-date her old learnings her understandings from her original family system.
Each of us organizes and represents our experiences of the world and each other differently, in ways which are unique to each of us. My experience of the "same world" will differ from yours in some ways. Through our initial genetic heritage and from our extensive experience in coping and living, each of us has created a map or model of the world which we use to guide our behavior. We do not experience the world directly but rather through the models of the world which we have developed to help us organize our ongoing experience. The means by which we develop and elaborate our models of the world are the three universals of human modeling deletion, distortion and generalization. When we pay attention only to selected portions of our environment and ignore others, we are using the modeling principle of
We will refer to these words as process words
Of the ten predicates listed above used by Dave, more than half of them presuppose a kinesthetic representational system that is, Dave organizes his experience, his model of the world, by feelings. Thus, Dave's most used representational system is kinesthetic. The remaining predicates used by Dave are consistent with this statement, as they are unspecified with respect to representational system.
Knowing a person's most used representational system is, in our experience, a very useful piece of information. One way in which we have found this useful is in our ability to establish effective communication. As therapists, if we can be sensitive to the most used representational system of the person with whom we are working, we then have the choice of translating our communication into his system. Thus, he comes to trust us as we demonstrate that we understand his ongoing experience by, for example, changing our predicates to match his. Being explicit about how the other person organizes his or her experience of the world allows us to avoid some of the typical "resistant clientfrustrated therapist" patterns such as those described in Part I,
We have in past years (during in-service training seminars) noticed therapists who asked questions of the people they worked with with no knowledge of representational systems used. They typically use only predicates of their own most highly valued representational systems. This is an example:
This session went around and around until the therapist came out and said to the authors:
We have heard and seen many long, valuable hours wasted in this form of miscommunication by therapists with the people they work with. . . . The therapist in the above transcript was really trying to help and the person with him was really trying to cooperate but without either of them having a sensitivity to representational systems. Communication between people under these conditions is usually haphazard and tedious. The result is often name calling when a person attempts to communicate with someone who uses different predicates.
Typically, kinesthetics complain that auditory and visual people are insensitive. Visuals complain the auditories don't pay attention to them because they don't make eye contact during the conversation. Auditory people complain that kinesthetics don't listen, etc. The outcome is usually that one group comes to consider the other as deliberately bad or mischievous or pathological.
The point we are illustrating here is that one of the most powerful skills we, as therapists, can develop is the ability to be sensitive to representational systems. For change to occur, for the persons with whom we are working to be willing to take risks, for them to come to trust us as guides for change, they must be convinced that we understand their experience and can communicate with them about it. In other words, we accept as our responsibility as people-helpers the task of making contact with the persons we are trying to help. Once we have made contact by matching representational systems, for example we can assist them in expanding their choices about representing their experience and communicating about it. This second step that of leading the individual toward new dimensions of experience is very important. So often, in our experience, family members have "specialized" one paying primary attention to the visual representation of experience, another to the kinesthetic portion of experience, etc.
For example, we discover from the transcript that
(a) Dave and Marcie learn to communicate effectively with one another.
(b) Each of them expands his/her choices about representing and communicating their experiences, thus becoming more developed human beings more whole, more able to express and use their human potential.
Within the context of family therapy, by identifying each family member's most used representational system, the therapist learns what portions of the ongoing family experience is most available to each person there. Understanding this allows the therapist to know where, in the communication patterns of the family, to look for faulty communication, where the family members fail to communicate what they intend. For example, if one family member is primarily visual and another auditory, the family therapist will be alert to note how they communicate, how they give each other feedback. Under stress particularly, each of us tends to depend only upon our primary representational system. We come to accept a
At this point in the presentation of the patterns which we have identified as useful in organizing our experience in therapy, we are going to shift the way in which we present the transcript. We have identified the most important of the verbal patterns which are in our family therapy model and, with the presentation of the principle of representational systems, we have begun to move to the next level of patterns. Verbal communications and your ability to hear the distinctions which we have presented are very useful portions of an effective model for family therapy. These verbal patterns and your ability to respond systematically to them, however, constitute only a portion of the complete model. In the presentation of the transcript up to this point, we have confined ourselves to reporting the verbal patterns. In this way, we hoped to find a common reference point from which each of you could connect what we are describing with words here in this book with your own experience in therapy. We hoped that, by finding this common reference point, you would be able to utilize, immediately and dynamically in your work, the patterns which we have identified.
Now we move on to patterns at the next level of experience, patterns which have as one of their parts the verbal patterns which we have just identified.
PATTERNS OF EFFECTIVE FAMILY THERAPY LEVEL II
Each of us, as a human being, has many choices about the way in which we present ourselves the way by which we communicate. Most of the time, as we meet and separate and meet again, we do not make conscious decisions about the way we communicate. Normally, for example, we do not
Verbal communication constitutes only a portion of the complex process of communication which goes on between people. At the same time that people are presenting one another with words and the formal verbal patterns we have identified, they are also holding some portions of their body in a certain posture; they are moving their hands and feet, their arms and legs with smooth or erratic, rhythmic or arhythmic motions; they are speaking with a tone of voice which is melodic, raspy, lilting, or grating; they are speaking at a constant tempo, or speeding up and slowing down; they are moving their eyes in a rapidly shifting scan, or maintaining a fixed stare, with their eyes focused or unfocused; they are altering the rhythm of their breathing, etc. Each of these movements, gestures, tones, etc., are choices which they make, usually at the unconscious level, about the way they present themselves, the way they communicate. Each of these is, in fact, a message about their ongoing experience, about the way they organize their world, of what they are most acutely aware. Just as with the verbal patterns, when each of the patterns, once detected by the therapist, could be used by him for a specific, effective therapeutic intervention, here also, in the case of the messages carried by the person's voice, body movements, etc., the therapist can train himself to identify patterns and to intervene to assist the person to grow and change.
One of the most useful ways of proceeding in this complex area, in our experience, is for therapists to educate themselves to identify patterns of
Each of us has a nervous system, a personal history, and a view or model of the world which are unique to us. When we meet another person and communicate carefully, we are sensitive to the other individual in hopes of truly making contact and learning to appreciate his uniqueness, even as we, ourselves, change and grow from our experience of the differences between us. Much of our education is directed toward insuring that the verbal language which we share with other speakers (English, for this book) overlaps enough to enable us to make contact. This gives the people in the same language/ culture group a basis for communication. In the case of the languages of the body, tonality, etc., almost no formal education is given to us; in fact, little is known about these languages. Yet, these non-verbal messages constitute the bulk of the information which is communicated by human beings.
One of the ways in which each of you can become more sensitive to the variances from person to person in the non-verbal language which carries so much of our communication is to consider the differences in gestural and body language from culture to culture. In some cultures (Italian, for example), holding the hand palm-up at about chin level, extended in front of you, and opening and closing the hand is a way of signaling
One very general overview of the process of communication which we have found useful in organizing our experience is that each communication composed of the specific body posture, movement, voice tone and tempo, the words, and the sentence syntax can be understood to be a comment on three areas of the ongoing experience:
The person to whom the communication is addressed, the
We represent this visually by the symbol:
We have found it useful to check a person's communication for his ability to be aware of and communicate about each of these dimensions. If, for example, a person is unable, at a given point in time, to be aware of and to represent to himself and to others (communicate) each of these parts of human experience, then this present inability is connected with the difficulties in his life which brought him to us for therapy. Thus, it indicates to us where we may choose to intervene to assist him in developing his ability to experience and make sense out of each of these parts of human experience, thereby creating more choices for himself. Notice that the same modeling processes detailed in the patterns of verbal communication in Level I of this part of the book also occur here at this higher level of patterning. When a family member says to us,
we understand that he has deleted (linguistically) a portion of his experience; specifically,
One of us [Virginia Satir] has identified four communication categories or stances which people adopt under stress. Each of these Satir categories is characterized by a particular body posture, set of gestures, accompanying body sensations, and syntax. Each is a caricature:
The placater always talks in an ingratiating way, trying to please, apologizing, never disagreeing, no matter what. He's a "yes man." He talks as though he could do nothing for himself; he must always get someone to approve of him. You will find later that, if you play this role for even five minutes, you will begin to feel nauseous and want to vomit.
A big help in doing a good placating job is to think of yourself as really worth nothing. You are lucky just to be allowed to eat. You owe everybody gratitude, and you really are responsible for everything that goes wrong. You know you could have stopped the rain if you used your brains, but you don't have any. Naturally, you will agree with any criticism made about you. You are, of course, grateful for the fact that anyone even talks to you, no matter what they say or how they say it. You would not think of asking anything for yourself. After all, who are you to ask? Besides, if you can just be good enough it will come by itself.
Be the most syrupy, martyrish, bootlicking person you can be. Think of yourself as being physically down on one knee, wobbling a bit, putting out one hand in a begging fashion, and be sure to have your head up so your neck will hurt and your eyes will become strained so, in no time at all, you will begin to get a headache.
When you talk in this position, your voice will be whiny and squeaky because you keep your body in such a lowered position that you don't have enough air to keep a rich, full voice. You will be saying "yes" to everything, no matter what you feel or think. The placating stance is the body position that matches the placating response.
The blamer is a fault-finder, a dictator, a boss. He acts superior, and he seems to be saying, "If it weren't for you, everything would be all right." The internal feeling is one of tightness in the muscles and in the organs. Meanwhile, the blood pressure is increasing. The voice is hard, tight, and often shrill and loud.
Good blaming requires you to be as loud and tyrannical as you can. Cut everything and everyone down.
As a blamer, it would be helpful to think of yourself pointing your finger accusingly
and to start your sentences with, "You never do this, or you always do that, or why do you always, or why do you never ...," and so on. Don't bother about an answer. That is unimportant. The blamer is much more interested in throwing his weight around than really finding out about anything.
Whether you know it or not, when you are blaming, you are breathing in little, tight spurts, or holding your breath altogether, because your throat muscles are so tight. Have you ever seen a really first-rate blamer, whose eyes were bulging, neck muscles and nostrils standing out, who was getting red and whose voice sounded like someone shoveling coal? Think of yourself standing with one hand on your hip and the other arm extended with your index finger pointed straight out. Your face is screwed up, your lips curled, your nostrils flared as you yell, call names, and criticize everything under the sun.
The computer is very correct, very reasonable, with no semblance of any feeling showing. He is calm, cool, and collected. He could be compared to an actual computer or a dictionary. The body feels dry, often cool, and disassociated. The voice is a dry monotone, and the words are likely to be abstract.
When you are a computer, use the longest words possible, even if you aren't sure of their meanings. You will at least sound intelligent. After one paragraph, no one will be listening anyway. To get yourself really in the mood for this role, imagine that your spine is a long, heavy steel rod, reaching from your buttocks to the nape of your neck, and you have a ten-inch-wide iron collar around your neck. Keep everything about yourself as motionless as possible, including your mouth. You will have to try hard to keep your hands from moving, but do it.
When you are computing, your voice will naturally go dead because you have no feeling from the cranium down. Your mind is bent on being careful not to move, and you are kept busy choosing the right words. After all, you should never make a mistake.
The sad part of this role is that it seems to represent an ideal goal for many people. "Say the right words; show no feeling; don't react."
Whatever the distracter does or says is irrelevant to what anyone else is saying or doing. He never makes a response to the point. His internal feeling is one of dizziness. The voice can be singsong, often out of tune with the words, and can go up and down without reason because it is focused nowhere.
When you play the distracting role, it will help you to think of yourself as a kind of lopsided top, constantly spinning, but never knowing where you are going, and not realizing it when you get there. You are too busy moving your mouth, your body, your arms, your legs. Make sure you are never on the point with your words. Ignore everyone's questions; maybe come back with one of your own on a different subject. Take a piece of imaginary lint off someone's garment, untie shoelaces, and so on.
Think of your body as going off in different directions at once. Put your knees together in an exaggerated, knock-kneed fashion. This will bring your buttocks out and make it easy for you to hunch your shoulders and have your arms and hands going in opposite directions.
At first, this role seems like a relief, but after a few minutes of play, the terrible loneliness and purposelessness arise. If you can keep yourself moving fast enough, you won't notice it so much.
As practice for yourself, take the four physical stances I have described, hold them for just sixty seconds and see what happens to you. Since many people are unaccustomed to feeling their body reactions, you may find at first that you are so busy thinking you aren't feeling. Keep at it, and you will begin to have the internal feelings you've experienced so many times before. Then, the moment you are on your own two feet and are freely relaxed and able to move, you find your internal feeling changes.
It is my hunch that these ways of communicating are learned early in childhood. They represent the best the child can make out of what he sees and hears around him. As the child tries to make his way through the complicated and often-threatening world in which he finds himself, he uses one or another of these means of communicating. After enough use he can no longer distinguish his response from his feeling of worth or his personality.
Use of any of these four responses forges another ring in an individual's feeling of low self-worth or low pot [see
"Don't impose; it's selfish to ask for things for yourself," reinforces placating.
"Don't let anyone put you down; don't be a coward," helps to reinforce blaming.
"Don't be so serious. Live it up! Who cares?" helps to reinforce distracting.
"Don't let anyone be smarter than you. Be smarter than everyone around you. Explain everything but don't experience it!" [helps to reinforce computing].
Finally, we would add to Satir's excellent description of each of these communication stances the syntactic correlates which we have found to accompany them:
Satir Category 1 Placater
Use of qualifiers:
Satir Category 2 Blamer
Use of universal quantifiers:
Satir Category 3 Computer (super-reasonable)
Deletion of experiencer noun argumements the subject of active verbs as in /
Satir Category 4 Distracter
This category, in our experience, is a rapid alternation of the first three; thus, the syntax which identifies it is a rapid alternation of the syntactic patterns of each of the three listed above. Also, the client displaying this category rarely uses pronouns in his responses which refer to parts of the therapist's sentences and questions.
One way to understand how these postures can be useful in your work is to realize that each of these patterns is useful in coping, given the appropriate context, but that no one of them is complete. Messages about self and context have, for example, been deleted by the placater. Understanding that each of these presents a choice, we, as people-helpers, are able to assist the people with whom we are working to have all of them as alternatives for response. Another way that we have found these Satir categories appropriate to use is that each of the postures represents a universal and frequently occurring pattern of incongruity.
As therapists committed to the profession of people-helping, we are daily faced with the task of responding to non-verbal languages. The problem with which we are faced, then, is how to understand the intricacies and complexities of the unspoken messages effectively enough to assist the person with whom we are working to change and grow. There are two ways which we have found most effective in coping with this difficulty: First, to simply ask what some particular, repetitive body movement, tonality, etc., is or what it
Notice that neither of these choices requires the therapist to engage in Mind Reading. In the first case, he merely asks for a translation into words (the full Complex-Equivalence relationship), and, in the second case, he assigns no oral meaning to the non-verbal messages he is receiving, but simply decides whether or not the messages fit together. Following are several examples of these patterns, taken from the same transcript further on in the session.
Disregarding the patterns which we have already identified, you will notice that the therapist is using his senses his input channels to detect incongruity in Marcie's communication to Dave. Specifically, the words which he hears do not match her tone of voice nor her hand movements and positions. Without attempting to assign any meaning to these non-verbal cues, he simply presents them to Marcie and states that he had a difficult time understanding her communication. Consider what has happened here: The therapist detects Mind Reading and Complex Equivalence by Marcie:
Next, he moves to break up this piece of calibrated communication by asking Marcie to check out her Mind Reading-Complex Equivalence with Dave. As she asks Dave about this, her voice tone, body posture and movements fail to match her words. The therapist again intervenes by making Marcie aware of the incongruities which he detected in her communication and tells her of his difficulty in understanding her incongruent communication. Marcie's response clearly indicates that she is completely calibrated with respect to Dave's communication; she is absolutely convinced that Dave is not
back at the floor.
And when Marcie looks at me that way, I sorta go blank, you know what I mean?
looking at the floor?
on her face like before, I don't hear what she's saying. Marcie, I really do . . . really.
This portion of the transcript shows several important patterns. First, notice that some of the pain connected with Dave and Marcie comes directly from the calibrated communication system which they have built up with one another. In the way that Marcie organizes her experience, she has set up the Complex Equivalence that if Dave is not looking at her, he is not paying attention to her. In Dave's way of organizing his experience, whenever he is looking at Marcie and he sees a certain expression on her face, he has to look away from her in order to continue to be attentive. This is just the vicious cycle of communication failure we encounter so frequently: The very thing that one family member does to accomplish something is the cue or signal to another family member that he is
This exchange between Marcie and Dave, then, is an excellent example of the way in which the patterns of Complex Equivalence and Mind Reading can hook up to create a chain of calibrated communication which results in pain for the family members. We can break up the process in a step-by-step manner to identify the overall pattern and the separate elements of it.
1. Both Marcie and Dave are caring, well-intentioned people. They sincerely want to communicate with each other. Marcie begins to talk; Dave is watching her as he listens.
2. Marcie struggles to express herself accurately, and Dave struggles to understand. In her efforts to communicate, Marcie changes the expression on her face, narrowing her eyes as she makes mental pictures to help her organize her communication (remember, her most used representational system is visual), and leans forward. Dave, in the past, has seen a similar expression on Marcie's face and observed similar body movements by Marcie when she is unhappy with him. That is, Dave has a Complex Equivalence of:
3. By the Complex Equivalence, Dave "knows" what Marcie is feeling and thinking; that is, employing the Complex Equivalence, Dave uses Mind Reading to determine Marcie's experience. This is the first piece of calibrated communication.
4. Since Dave "knows" that Marcie is unhappy with him, he is tight and finds it difficult to listen and to understand what she is saying while he is aware of her signals. Thus, he shifts his gaze from Marcie to the floor. Notice that this shift comes from his desire to understand Marcie, plus his Mind Reading.
5. Marcie notes the shift of Dave's eyes from her to the floor. In the past, Marcie has seen this movement on Dave's part when he is not paying attention to her. Thus, Marcie has the Complex Equivalence of:
6. By Complex Equivalence, Marcie "knows" that Dave is not paying attention to her she "knows" the inner experience which Dave is having. Marcie is now Mind Reading; this is the second piece of calibrated communication.
7. Since Marcie "knows" that Dave is not paying attention to her, she increases her efforts to capture his attention leaning farther forward in her chair, narrowing her eyes even more, as she attempts to organize her communication more effectively (by making pictures of the ways she might use to gain his attention). Notice that these changes which she goes through come from her desire to communicate with Dave, plus her Mind Reading.
Dave and Marcie are now locked into a vicious cycle: The more that Marcie tries to express herself effectively, the more she presents Dave with signals that she is unhappy with him, and the more that Dave detects the signal that Marcie is unhappy with him, the more he responds by trying to understand, presenting her with signals that he is not paying attention to her, and the more that Marcie detects Dave's signals, the more she strives to communicate and to capture his attention, and the more .... After some period of time after the cycle has gone around several times Marcie will, in fact, become unhappy with Dave, and Dave will, in fact, stop paying attention to Marcie to avoid the bad feeling it gives him. This last step puts the finishing touches on the calibrated communication as it confirms the Complex Equivalence and Mind Reading upon which that communication cycle is based.
In our experience, one of the results of calibrated communication cycles, such as those we have observed between Dave and Marcie, is that, as they continue to miscommunicate in other ways, they come to doubt their worth as human beings. For example, Marcie may come to question whether she is worth Dave's attention, and Dave may come to wonder whether Marcie's being unhappy with him is because he is incapable of being the cause of her experiencing happiness.
A pattern closely connected with one way by which the therapist breaks up a calibrated communication is that of
Omitting part of the transcript, we come now to another example of incongruity:
There are several useful patterns in this exchange. First, notice that the words which Marcie uses to express herself do not agree with the posture, body movements and voice tonality which she uses as she says the words. The boy Tim (12 years old) must decide to which message he will respond from the conflicting ones he is receiving from Marcie. We can represent this process visually:
Tim decides (not necessarily consciously) to accept the first group of three messages and respond to them rather than to the last single one.
The therapist has identified another piece of incongruent communication in this case, rather than comment on it himself, he asks another member of the family to do so. Her response allows the therapist to determine several things: Margaret, apparently, is not aware of the incongruity; she reports only the information which she received visually. One of the unfortunate but all-too-common patterns which result from incongruent communication is that the people exposed to it decide to shut down one of their major sources of information. In other words, since the messages which they are receiving do not fit together, their response to this incongruity the way in which they resolve it is simply to delete one of the sources of the non-matching messages. In Margaret's case, she is aware of what her mother, Marcie,
Several unfortunate things result from this kind of decision on the part of Margaret. First, she has developed a pattern by which, whenever she is presented with an incongruent communication a situation in which the messages which she is receiving from the other person do not fit she systematically selects the information which she receives visually. This deprives her of a major source of knowledge about other people and the world around her. Secondly, when Marcie (or anyone) communicates incongruently, she is indicating that she, herself, is uncertain, split, or of more than one frame of mind about what is going on. Incongruent communication is a signal that that person has more than one map or model for his behavior, and that these maps or models conflict. Since these maps or guides for his behavior clash, when he attempts to respond to others, he presents messages from each of these models and the messages do not agree. When Margaret chooses to respond to only one set of messages (derived from Marcie's one model of the world), Margaret loses touch with the other part of Marcie. Each of the models which Marcie has is truly a part of, and a resource for, her. When the people around her come to respond to only one of these parts, Marcie herself begins to lose touch with the other part, and she becomes wholly unaware of this other resource which could be available to her. Typically, she becomes blocked in her growth and development as an alive and creative human being, her communication remains incongruent, and she feels split, paralyzed even confused about what she
This particular Complex Equivalence is likely to become generalized into a piece of calibrated communication that is, whenever Margaret sees and hears the signals listed above, no matter what else is happening, she will decide (again, probably unconsciously) that Marcie is
One of the classes of rules which is, in our experience, very useful in coming to understand family systems, especially in the context of therapy, is the class of rules about what the family members may perceive and act upon when they experience incongruent communications. Another way of understanding these rules is to determine which input channels the family members may use. These are often the patterns of Complex Equivalence which occur over and over again. The foregoing example of Margaret and Marcie suggests that the information from the
Another, and in our experience, equally important, set of rules is that which specifies
When was the last time that you told her?
Here, the therapist begins by identifying the by-now-familiar pattern of Mind Reading. He challenges the calibrated feedback by asking the mother to check with her daughter to find out whether or not her hallucination is accurate. Marcie immediately balks. This notifies the therapist at once that a family rule is involved specifically, the rule that, in this family, the expression of concern by the mother for the daughter (and, in our experience, this rule probably applies to other members of the family as well) cannot be explicitly communicated verbally. In other words, in the terms which we have been developing, the rule eliminates the output channel of verbal expression for messages of concern.
The therapist stays with Marcie, encouraging her until she successfully breaks the family rule against expressing concern through bodily contact. As soon as the mother has accomplished this, he moves to the daughter and works with her to provide positive feedback to Marcie. Then, he extends this new learning, the ability to use the output channel of direct verbal expression to communicate concern, and has the daughter break the rule, also. Next, he creates another option for expressing messages of love and concern within the family system. He guesses at and then verifies that there is a rule against the mother and daughter (and, most probably, the other family members) expressing their love and concern physically that is, he identifies another output channel which has been knocked out by a rule.
This is an excellent example of the outcome of a therapeutic intervention to assist the family members in congruently expressing their feelings and caring for each other. The therapist assists the members of the family in becoming congruent in the expression of important messages. As this happens, he immediately generalizes this new learning to include other output channels other choices for harmonious expressions and other family members.
In Part I, we have attempted to begin to develop a model of the ways in which we have found it useful to organize our experience in family therapy. We have done this by, first, attempting to find a point of common experience from which to build our model. This point of common experience is a description here in words which each of you can associate with the actual rich and complex experiences you have had in your work as family therapists. As we stated previously, models of experience our model of family therapy are to be judged as
The second level of patterns which we have identified involve non-verbal as well as verbal patterns. We have not attempted to be exhaustive there are many more patterns of which we are aware which we have found to be extremely useful in our work in family therapy. Rather, we have attempted to identify the
In this part of the book, we will present the overall model for family therapy. Models for complex behavior are ways of explicitly organizing your experience for acting effectively in this area. Family therapy is assuredly one of the most complex areas of human behavior. For our model to be useful for each of us as a family therapist, it must reduce the complexity to a level which we, as humans, are able to handle. In the model we present here, we have kept that requirement clearly in mind; we have identified what we consider the minimum distinctions which will allow the therapist to organize his experience in family therapy so that he may act in a way which will be both effective and creative. What this means is that, in our experience, when we are careful to make the distinctions we present in our model, and when we organize our experience in the category specified in the model in the sequence stated, we have been consistently effective and dynamic in our work with families.
In Part I of this book, we identified and gave examples of some of the patterns we consider necessary for effective family therapy. In this portion of the book, we group those patterns into natural classes. These natural classes specify a sequence in which the therapist can, in our experience, usefully employ those first-level patterns they show him an order in which he may effectively apply the patterns identified in Part I. The result of this grouping is an explicit, formal strategy for family therapy. The strategy is explicit in that it specifies both the parts of the process of family therapy (the patterns of Part I) and the sequence in which they can be applied. Because it is explicit, the strategy is also learnable. The strategy is formal in that it is independent of content it applies equally well to
It is important for us to emphasize this distinction between
Furthermore, our model is designed to provide each of you with a way of organizing your experience so that you have a direction, a way of knowing what happens next, not by deciding beforehand what will happen but by recognizing the patterns presented to you by the family. Perhaps most important for your continued growth as a potent family therapist, it provides you with a way of getting feedback, a way of finding out what works. Our hope is that you will accept this model and find it useful in your difficult but rewarding work as a people-helper.
We feel that it is helpful to you, the reader, in using the patterns in the model for family therapy which we have created, to have an explicit, clear understanding of the process we call communication. We would remind the reader that what we present as our model of the word
1. Communication (communicator) = the messages offered by the person doing the communicating. The person communicating will present these messages in many different forms body postures; movement of hands, arms,etc.; eye-scanning patterns; voice tonality and tempo; breathing rate; words, sentence syntax, etc. Furthermore, these messages may or may not be in the conscious awareness of the person communicating.
2. Experience (receiver) = the messages received by the person to whom the communication is directed. The messages are received through the various sensory channels: eyes, ears, skin, etc. These messages may or may not be in the conscious awareness of the person receiving them.
3. Conclusion (receiver) = the understanding reached by the person receiving the messages as to what the messages mean. Again, the receiver may reach an understanding both in and out of conscious awareness.
4. Generalization (receiver) = the way in which the person receiving the messages connects them with his past experience, and the way in which the receiver uses his understanding of the messages received to shape his comprehensions and responses explain their use in the present and, without intervention, for the future.
5. Response Behavior (receiver) = the way in which the person receiving the messages responds. This step in the communication cycle is equivalent to the first step when the original communicator and receiver have switched positions. In the diagram on page 98, this is the meaning of the arrow which cycles back, connecting the last step in the diagram to the first step.
In our experience, the process of communication between two or more people rarely occurs in this sequence; rather, the steps typically overlap. For example, even as I arrange my body in a certain posture, move my hands and feet and eyes, produce a certain tone of voice, speak at a specific speed, utter the specific words in the specific sentence forms, I see movements as you shift your body posture, move your hands, nod or shake your head, etc. movements which present messages to me which I incorporate (both in and out of awareness) into my ongoing communication. Thus, as with any model which we create, we have made discrete and separate the ongoing flow of experience in order to attempt to fully understand all of the messages and to create new choices for ourselves.
As family therapists, one way for us to understand the task which we have set for ourselves is to assist the families who come to us in pain to create new choices for themselves, both as individuals and as a family unit. The family's pain becomes for the therapist a signal for a powerful intervention for change. Pain, therefore, is in itself a useful message. We interpret it as a wish to grow in an area in which the person needs help to achieve that growth. More specifically, we work to discover the needs and to help the family members change the patterns of communication by which they are creating this pain for themselves. Using the previously given, five-step model for communication, we ask how we can train ourselves to be more skillfull in discovering the patterns which are causing the family pain, and how we can re-organize the family's resources so as to transform the patterns of pain into patterns of positive communication which each family member can use to gain what he or she wants. Another way of stating this is to ask: What are the characteristics of the patterns of miscommunication in families; by what particular process are they created; and how, specifically, can we intervene in the family system to help the members transform the patterns of miscommunication into resources for themselves? To answer these questions, we will describe two extreme patterns of communication the pattern of
CALIBRATED COMMUNICATION CYCLE
We now describe the specific characteristics of a typical calibrated communication cycle which results in pain for the people involved. We use the five-step communication model.
1. Communication (communicator): In both the formation and the running-off of the calibrated cycle, the person initiating the messages is acting incongruently. In other words, the messages carried by the communicator's body position and movements, his voice tonality, his skin tone and color, the tempo of his speech, the words, the sentence syntax, etc., do not match. Usually, the communicator who is incongruent in his communication is unaware that the messages which he is presenting to the receiver do not match. This is possible because he is aware of only some of the messages he is presenting the set of conflicting messages remains outside of his awareness. For example:
George: (head shaking slowly from side to side, breathing shallow and irregular, all body weight on right leg, left leg slightly forward, voice quality harsh and raspy, left hand slightly extended, index finger pointing, right hand extended, palm up)
Here the messages carried by George's body his movements, breathing, voice tone and words do not match. Yet, George, if questioned about it, would very likely be aware only of the words which he uttered and not the conflicting messages carried by his other communication channels. Which set of messages George is most aware of is closely connected to what his most used representational system is. We understand that George, in this situation, is not lying, attempting to deceive himself or his mother-in-law, or even being insincere. Rather, we know that George has several simultaneous responses to unexpectedly finding his mother-in-law standing on his front porch. A part of George responds by attempting to be gracious and welcoming to his mother-in-law; another part of George apparently is startled, upset, and angry, etc. The point for us to make is that each of the messages carried by George is a valid representation of a part of him at that moment in time. To deny, or ignore, or judge as bad any of these messages and the parts of George which produced them is to deny or ignore some important elements of George which can serve as powerful resources for him. In fact, they can serve as an opportunity for growth and change. Furthermore, in our experience, it is, literally, impossible to actually deny or ignore a part of a person; that part will continually assert itself until it is accepted, possibly transformed and integrated into the whole person. One example from traditional psychiatry of this continual assertion of a denied or ignored part is
2. Experience (receiver): The receiver is now faced with the task of understanding the communication presented by the communicator a set of messages which do not match, do not fit together. Typically, the receiver will selectively pay attention to the messages arriving through one of his input channels and disregard the others. More accurately, in our experience, the receiver will be aware of the messages arriving in one of his input channels, while the remaining messages are received and accepted outside of his awareness. Again, which messages the receiver is aware of is closely connected with his most used representational system. The important point here is that, when a receiver is presented with incongruent communication from the communicator, he represents all of the conflicting messages, some within his consciousness, some outside. If the receiver is aware that some of the messages conflict, he, typically, will consciously regard the communicator as insincere or deceitful. If the receiver is aware only of the messages which fit together the messages which conflict being received and accepted at the unconscious level then, typically, he will initially become uncomfortable, and, if he continues to receive incongruent communication, after some time he himself will become incongruent in his responses. This description contains the essential elements of the process by which children become incongruent a natural learning from well-meaning parents. In addition, people who focus on the content rather than the process are vulnerable to incongruity. This process, by the way, is the basis for much of the discomfort experienced by people-helpers who are faced daily with the task of communicating with incongruent people with whom they are working. Some patterns of miscommunication the processes by which family members create pain for themselves show up in the systems created between therapists and those with whom they work. This is one of the reasons that therapists themselves frequently feel drained at the end of the day and sometimes have difficulties in their own lives.
3. Conclusion (receiver): Faced with the task of making meaning out of a conflicting set of messages, the receiver, typically, ends up having one of two experiences:
(a) If, in Step (2), Experience (receiver), the receiver has organized his reception of the conflicting messages so that he is aware of only the consistent messages, he will reach the conscious conclusion that the communicator intends only the messages of which he is aware. As mentioned previously, he will receive and accept the conflicting messages at the unconscious level, and, typically, will reach the conclusion (at the unconscious level) that the communicator intends the messages received outside of awareness. The outcome of this process is that the receiver creates within himself conflicting models of this experience and usually feels confused.
(b) If, in Step (2), Experience (receiver), the receiver has organized his reception of the conflicting messages so that he is aware that they do not match, he will regard the communicator as insincere or manipulative, or even as evil and malicious.
4. Generalization (receiver): Often, in the context of incongruent communication, previous experiences (especially from the receiver's family of origin) are activated or triggered by the conflicting messages. It may be, for example, that the particular combination of incongruent messages in the specific sensory channels parallels a pattern of incongruent communication from one of the parents of the receiver. Or, it may be that the feelings of confusion experienced by the receiver trigger the recall of experiences from the past in which he also felt confused. If, for example, two people have a history of inter-communication and one of them, when expressing anger, has, in the past, consistently extended her finger, pointing at the second person, then, when she is incongruent in a way which specifically includes pointing her finger, the second person will respond
no matter what other messages might accompany the pointing finger. This type of generalization taking a portion of a complex experience and accepting it as representative of the whole experience is, again, an example of what we call
5. (Response Behavior (receiver): As mentioned previously, the response can be regarded as the beginning of a new cycle of communication. In addition, unless the receiver of the original incongruent communication is himself congruent, he will respond incongruently and another calibrated communication cycle begins. Therapists need to carefully avoid developing, without their being aware of it, calibrated communication with those with whom they are working in therapy, and themselves reinforcing the destructive patterns rather than developing new choices with the family members. An example of this is the situation in which the therapist responds to an attack by one family member on another member as though he (the therapist) were the one being attacked.
Typically, calibrated communication cycles between members of a family will become more and more abbreviated until merely the raising of an eyebrow will trigger pain and rage in other family members.
We now present an example of a highly calibrated, pain-producing communication cycle from a family therapy session.
The family in this session consists of three members:
Earlier in the transcript, each of the family members identified the name of what he/she wanted for himself/ herself (their nominalizations) as follows:
Notice in this portion of the transcript the way in which the experiences each family member wants (their Complex Equivalences) interact so completely that, even though the original names show little overlap, they fit together in a tight cycle of calibrated communication.
Notice how the seemingly diverse names of what each family member wants (nominalizations) actually interact: Carol wants
The remainder of this book presents some of the choices for effective, creative intervention by the therapist in such calibrated communication cycles.
FEEDBACK COMMUNICATION CYCLE
We now briefly describe the way in which the five steps in the communication cycle in which feedback is present are different from calibrated communication cycles.
1. Communication (communicator): In the case in which the communicator is congruent all of the messages match there is no difficulty; the communicator is unified in his expression. In the case in which the communicator is incongruent, he is in contact with his ongoing experience so that he himself will detect the incongruency in his communication. This allows him many choices.
2. Experience (receiver): If the communicator is congruent in his expression, no difficulty arises. If the communicator is incongruent, the receiver, if aware of the incongruency, has the freedom to gracefully call the communicator's attention to the incongruency, and, if asked, the receiver can then offer additional feedback to the communicator to assist him in integrating the conflicting messages and the models from which they arise. For example, when faced with a person whose head is slowly shaking from side to side, while he states that he really does want to wash the dishes, the receiver may gently comment: "I heard you say you want to do the dishes, and, at the same time, I saw your head shaking slowly from side to side. I'm wondering if you can help me make sense out of this for myself." The important point here is that the receiver has the freedom to comment and the incongruent communicator has the freedom to accept the comment without feeling attacked, without his self-esteem's being threatened. These are the essential ingredients of communication with feedback.
In the case in which the receiver is initially unaware of the incongruity in the original set of messages, he may only notice a vague uneasiness which marks the discrepancy between the meaning of the messages received at the conscious level of awareness and the meaning of the messages received at the unconscious level. In this case, he has the freedom to mention that he feels uneasy and to explore the source of his uneasiness with the communicator. This requires that the receiver have a sensitivity to his own ongoing experience as well as the ability to explore his feelings of uneasiness without his self-esteem's becoming involved.
3. Conclusion (receiver): When the messages which the receiver accepts are
4. Generalization (receiver): What distinguishes this step in a
One way in which the feedback cycle differs from the calibrated cycle is that, whenever the receiver is confused or aware that a previous occurrence is intruding and distracting him from freshly experiencing the present, he immediately attends to that sensory experience to discover what is happening. By being able to immediately establish sensory contact with his present situation and, especially, with the communicator, he can use his experience of confusion or distraction to learn more about himself and the person with whom he is communicating. This allows him to detect any patterns which are distorting his experience by accepting a part of a message for the entire communication (Complex Equivalence) and patterns of "knowing" the inner experience of the communicator without checking it for accuracy with the communicator (Mind Reading). Thus, the generalizations which the receiver in a feedback cycle makes and uses are flexible guides for understanding which are constantly being up-dated and checked against sensory experience.
5. Response Behavior (receiver): If the communicator began this cycle with an incongruent communication, then either the receiver has detected the conflicting messages in awareness and has begun to explore this with the communicator, using feedback, or he has detected a sense of confusion and has begun to explore this. If neither of these have occurred, then, typically, the receiver's response behavior will reflect the incongruency that is, the receiver himself will present the original communicator with an incongruent set of messages. If both the original communicator and the original receiver have the freedom to comment on and explore any confusion or incongruity without the interchange's becoming an issue of survival, then, before long, one or the other of the people involved, as they shift from communicator to receiver, will detect miscommunication patterns and begin to explore this opportunity to learn.
One way to clarify the usefulness of these two specific kinds of communication cycles (calibrated and feedback) is to understand that the therapist's task is to assist the family members in changing their patterns of communication from calibrated loops to feedback cycles. (See page 118.) Another way to use this model is for the therapist to check his own communication patterns with the family members to prevent
We move on now to present in more detail the intervention choices available to therapists, based on this communication model.
The most general level of patterning in our model for family therapy has three phases:
I. Gathering Information
II. Transforming the System
III. Consolidating Changes
I. GATHERING INFORMATION
In the first phase of family therapy, the therapist works with family members to gather information which will help him to create an initial experience with them (Phase II) which can then serve as a model for them in their future growth and change. The question
which the therapist must face is: Which introductory experience will best serve as this model for the family? One of the major purposes of the therapist's actions during this phase is to determine exactly which experience he will, in fact, initially use as a model. We call this set of actions by the therapist
In the process of determining this desired state for the family, the therapist is listening and watching, experiencing the family fully as they begin to make known their hopes and fears about themselves as individuals and about the family as a whole. This identifies the second category of information that the therapist is seeking: information regarding the
We emphasize that what we are calling the
What we have learned in our experience is that the desired state identified by members of the family with the therapist's help, no matter how different are the families themselves, is always a state in which all family members come to behave more congruently than they do in their present situation. Again, for us, congruency is a
Which of the patterns of coping which the family arid its members present to the therapist can best serve as resources to create an environment for growth and change whether or not the family members regard these process patterns as resources in the beginning? To create an effective model experience, the therapist needs to understand both the direction of change and the currently available resources of the people with whom he is working.
The third characteristic of creative, effective family therapy occurs during this phase when the therapist is working with the family members to prepare them to
The second major way in which the therapist acts to help the family members prepare for change is to share with the family member the information which he has gathered, smoothly using his communication skills to do this. Typically, the family members begin with a statement of what they want for themselves and their family; this statement invariably includes a nominalization. As the therapist gathers information, he is de-nominalizing; that is, he is turning the representation of an
does not, of course, attempt to insure that each family member has the understanding which is his his task is not to train family therapists. Neither does he keep relevant information from the family. Rather, using his skills as a communicator, the therapist presents to the family members the information each needs to understand that change is possible. As he shares his information about the process of communication in the family, the therapist describes what he experiences he does not evaluate or make judgments about it. This distinction between the
One of the outcomes of the therapist's skillful use of representational systems, congruency and sharing of information with all family members, is that the family members come to understand and trust one another. We find it very rewarding when we are able, through our communication skills, to help one family member come to fully understand that another family member is not being malicious, or evil, or crazy when he does not understand the first member's communication, but, rather, that their communications are simply not making a connection with one another, as each is paying attention to a different part of their shared experience.
Contrary to what many people expect, difference itself can become an opportunity for growth; it contains the seeds of excitement and interest, and the challenge of new learning when guided in that direction. Difference can also, of course, be used negatively; then, sameness can be made a cementing factor. Both sameness and difference are essential, for they manifest the uniqueness of each human being. Much of the therapist's task is to balance these two qualities and, specifically, to use his skills to help the family members to convert the differences which previously caused them pain into an occasion for learning and growth.
When the therapist works with the family to help them to understand the
The result of the processes of developing each family member's trust in the therapist as an agent of change and the therapist's sharing of the information with the family is that the family members become willing to take risks, to venture into unknown territory, and to attempt to build new bridges within the family. By carefully preparing the family members during Phase I, the therapist is able to engage the hopes, energy and creative participation of the family members in developing an experience which will serve as a model for them in their future growth.
Determining the Desired State
The presence of a family in a therapy session is a statement by that family that their present state their present ways of coping, communicating and interacting is unsatisfactory to them. It is a statement that the family recognizes, at some level, that there is a discrepancy between what their present experience as a family is and what they want for themselves. The typical case in our experience is the one characterized by the family arriving for the initial therapy session, each member having some idea of what it is that he wants to change. The initial focus of the therapist is to find out what those changes are. The simplest, and a very effective, way of doing this is for the therapist to introduce himself to each of the family members and to ask them what it is,
Any of these questions will start the process of determining the desired state for the family. As the family members begin to respond to the therapist's questions, they will, typically, present their ideas about what they want for themselves and their family in the form of a nominalization. For example, many families with whom we have worked state that they want more
As we pointed out in the first part of this book, nominalizations involve the language processes of
During this phase of family therapy, the therapist is making use of his skills as a communicator to connect the words the family members use with what they want. The therapist has connected the family members' words with their experience (has adequately de-nomin-alized their speech) when his understanding is specific enough that he knows what observable behavior would indicate for that person what he really wants when he would be able to act out some sequence of behavior with the family member which would be recognized as an example of what that individual desires.
Two general ways of proceeding to adequately connect language and experience (de-nominalization) are:
a) Employ the linguistic distinctions of deletion, lack of referential indices, unspecified verbs, nominalizations, and modal operators;
b) Have the family members act out a sequence of behavior which is an example of what they want.
These two general ways of starting the process of de-nominalization are, in our experience, more closely connected than the two categories would suggest. More specifically, when a family member is describing verbally what he wants or what stops him from getting what he wants, almost invariably both that person and the other family members will be acting out before your very eyes the thing being described. In other words, family members match their
The process is complete when the therapist understands what kind of observable behavior is an adequate example of what the family member wants in other words, the de-nominalization is complete when the therapist has established which experience (Complex Equivalence) counts for the family members as an example of what they want.
One of the major tasks for the therapist in Phase I is complete when he has successfully connected language with experience for each member of the family (de-nominalizations). However, there is one very important step remaining for the therapist in this area, as he is attempting to gather information regarding the desired state for the family as a unit. The de-nominalization for each of the family members may result in a set of experiences (Complex Equivalences) which are relatively unrelated. To establish, for the family as a unit, a desired state which will be helpful for the therapist to use to guide his behavior in creating a unified experience with the family, he works to find some way to coordinate the experiences which the family members want for themselves. In other words, he must choose a route to de-nominalization by which the individual experiences (Complex Equivalences) which they want will overlap, or, at least, will connect. Since the therapist is going to use these Complex Equivalences as the basis for creating an experience with the family in Phase II, these experiences to which the family members agree will have to fit together. In the process of delicately and gracefully integrating the different experiences wanted by the separate family members, whatever is common among those experiences will emerge naturally. In our experiences in family therapy, often the most diverse-sounding word descriptions, once connected with experience, will automatically merge for the family members involved.
The therapist can be sure that he has adequately connected the family members' words with experience (de-nominalized the family as a unit) when the result is a set of experiences (Complex Equivalences) which, themselves, connect. As the process continues, if the therapist notices that there is little connection among them, he might ask one of the family members to present (either as a verbal description or in any representational system, e.g., pictures, body movement, etc.) an example of an occasion when he
The outcome of the process of making clear what each family member wants is that the therapist and the family both come to understand what the essential ingredients are of an experience which they will co-operatively build as a part of Phase II of the family therapy session. The set of overlapping experiences (Complex Equivalences) which result from connecting words with experience (de-nominalization) suggest the structure to be used for Phase II. Before the therapist and the family can begin effectively to construct this experience, one other class of information is necessary. Having a map of San Francisco is a valuable asset if you intend to visit and explore that city; however, the map is of little use unless you also know where you presently are in relation to San Francisco. Your map will be useful to you only if you can get to San Francisco from where you are now. The therapist's major task is to assist the family in moving from where they presently are to where they want to be. The other category of information necessary for the therapist is the present resources and current patterns of coping which now exist within the family.
Determining the Present State
As the therapist employs the various ways of connecting language with experience and, at the same time, gathers the information necessary to understand the desired state of the family, he is engaged in the ongoing process of communicating with, observing and listening to the interaction of the various family members. Thus, while the focus of the
The amount of communication which occurs in a family therapy session is enormous it is, actually, much more than is needed for the therapist to determine the present state of the family system. With this in mind, we have isolated what we consider some of the more informative and distinctive features of family interaction; by isolating them, we are identifying one way for therapists to organize their experience in family therapy so that:
a) They will not be overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation;
b) They will detect the processes which will allow them to sufficiently understand the present state of the family system so that they may effectively create, with the family members, the experience in Phase II.
This is simply a way of saying that, in this phase, we are offering a model for family therapy which has been effective and useful in our experience; as with all models, it is neither exhaustive nor unique.
The first of these larger patterns is the calibrated communication cycles which already exist within the family. Typically, the calibrated loops which we encounter are already so established in the family process that the family members regard them as an unalterable part of their experience. Often, the very learning that these cycles can be changed is, perhaps, the most powerful information which we, as therapists, can provide for the family members. Our feeling is that, by understanding the underlying process by which these cycles of pain and miscommunication are created, we, as family therapists, can have more choices about the way in which we assist families both to overcome those loops already present in their system and to avoid forming new ones in the future. The general pattern of the process by which calibrated communication loops are formed in family systems can be represented as:
We discuss each of these steps in turn. The process most typically begins when some person in the family communicates incongruently; for example:
In the example given, the messages carried by the body posture and movements and the voice tonality match with each other but not with the words and syntax of the verbal communication a classic case of incongruity. When faced with a communication such as this, the person (receiver) typically responds by deciding
(step 2 in the process) whether he will respond to the verbal message or the analogue messages.
The other person in this family system decides to respond to the analogue portion of Mildred's incongruent communication. In this case, the decision is to give priority to the analogue messages arriving primarily through the visual channel rather than the auditory (verbal) channel. Now the process of generalization occurs; in this transcript, the person (George) becomes aware that he feels bad, and this is associated (consciously or not) with an entire set of experiences from the past, when Mildred has been angry with him and he has felt bad.
The next step in the creation of a calibrated communication loop is the Complex Equivalence. The analogue signals or messages which George is attending to are accepted as being equivalent to the inner state labeled "anger" in Mildred. The process is completed with the next step, as George accepts the generalization of the Complex Equivalence itself that is, anytime in the future that George detects the analogue messages described above from Mildred, he will "know" that she is angry. When this loop has been run often enough, the number of analogue cues which George will need to fire off this Complex Equivalence will be reduced. For example, we have encountered cases of calibrated communication in which the shrug of a shoulder, the change of a breathing pattern, or the shift of weight from one leg to another are messages sufficient to initiate a Complex Equivalence, with the accompanying Mind Reading and a calibrated loop. In each of these cases, the person doing the Mind Reading was wholly unaware of the observable portion of the Complex Equivalence that is, the cue or signal which "gave" him the information was totally outside of his consciousness.
Another effective way of gathering information sufficient to understand the present state of the family system is to use as leads the nominalizations which the family members claim they want for themselves in the desired state. When a family member identifies the nominalization he wants for himself, he is, in effect, stating that he is not satisfied with what he is presently getting from the family in regard to this nominalization. Thus, as the therapist employs his skills to de-nominalize the family members' nominalizations into some set of Complex Equivalences which will identify actual, observable behavior, he can have the family member give (verbally or by acting out) an example of how what happens in his or her present experiences in the family stops him from getting what he wants. Almost invariably, in our experience, the family member presents a case of calibrated communication which is at the center of much pain and dissatisfaction in the family system.
The two strategies which we have just presented for gathering information necessary to understand the present state of the family system have in common the fact that they identify the patterns of calibrated communication. In our work, we have found that the therapist has information sufficient to understand the present state of the family system when he has identified the major ways in which the family members communicate in a calibrated fashion the places in the family communication patterns in which there is little or no feedback. The set of calibrated loops in a family system is the set of rules for that system which the therapist needs to know about to understand the way in which the family is failing to cope. Rules or calibrated communication loops are what researchers in cybernetics called
There are three major parts of Phase I of family therapy, Gathering Information. These are:
1. Preparation of family members for creating an experience which will serve as a model for their future behavior;
2. Determining the desired state for the family system;
3. Determining the present state of the family system.
The therapist can effectively accomplish the first of these by working to create confidence and trust in him in the family members and by sharing the information he gathers, especially making sure that each of the family members comes to appreciate the process by which they have come to the situation in which they now find themselves and, thus, allowing them to understand that the change they will make is simply the next step in an ongoing process over which they can learn to exercise control. The main feature of the second part, that of determining the desired state for the family, is the connecting of words with specific experiences (de-nominalization of the nominalizations) which each of the family members brings to the session as his need or hope for himself and his family. The third part is achieved when the therapist has identified the calibrated communication loops which prevent the family from getting what they want for themselves. The therapist and the family members will have a clear direction, once they have determined the present and future states of the family system. This information, plus the family members' preparedness to accept risk, signals to the therapist that the first phase is complete and he may begin to create the explicit experience which will serve as a model for the future of the family system.
The description of Phase I above is an idealized version of our experience, as is any model; it is the minimum effective set of patterns which we have come to distill from our work in family therapy as adequate for Phase I. We have found it extremely useful in organizing our experiences in family therapy. We invite you to try it, change it, modify it in any way which makes it work for you, for your own personal style.
II. TRANSFORMING THE SYSTEM
Once the therapist has gathered enough information to understand, at least to some degree, the present state of the family system, the state desired by the family, and how the present state, as a system, is closed to the experiences desired by the family members, then he is ready to help create that experience to take the steps necessary to make it possible for the system to transform itself. When we are training family therapists, the most common complaint we receive is that there is too much to keep track of. The purpose of this book is to assist you in understanding which elements you should pay attention to and which are extraneous. All too often, family therapists expend their major resources in focusing on every detail of the
For example, the husband (Fred) wants more attention from his wife (Mary). Mary wants more respect from Fred and their daughter. Daughter Judy wants freedom and the understanding from her parents that she is almost an adult. This constitutes one set of information. When the therapist understands how Fred knows when he isn't getting attention from his wife, Mary what she would be doing (saying, or acting) that would allow him to know he is getting attention he has a linguistic de-nominalization of the desired state. The therapist needs this same information for each family member. Next, the therapist will have to discern what it is that prevents each family member from perceiving that he is getting what he wants, or what stops other family members from giving him what he wants. This is a second important set of information. For example, Fred might say, "I know my wife is paying attention to me when she is being affectionate and she is
These sets of information can be compared to help you understand this process of coping which is not coping at all with respect to the desires of the family members. The desired state is outside of the limits of a system which is closed in this way. The task of the therapist is to lead the family members to the experience of getting what they want with three general strategies:
a) Intervention by challenging fixed generalizations from the past (calibrated communication cycles);
b) Giving perspective of process (achieving meta-position to system processes);
c) Transforming the system by re-calibration.
These three tactics will overlap with respect to individual techniques, but the result will be to teach the family the skills of all three strategies, as well as helping them obtain what they desire. So, transforming a system is really adding to the system the tools necessary to achieve any desired state, by showing the family members how it can be done. The family will learn tools to break calibrated communication, tools to focus on process, and tools to communicate in new and more satisfying ways. This is what makes the task of a family therapist primarily that of an educator.
Tools for Intervening to Challenge Fixed Generalizations from the Past (Calibrated Communication Cycles)
In order for a therapist to help create an experience which is an example of the desired state but which is outside of the possibilities of the present state of the family system, calibrated loops will have to be broken. Family members will have to
1. Personal communicates incongruently;
2. Person B decides to which message he will respond;
3. Person B generalizes about his feelings and his decision about the messages;
4. Person B builds fixed generalizations (Complex Equivalences);
5. Person B Mind Reads Person
The therapist can intervene at one or more of these points. A complete intervention will require that the therapist break in cyclically through this process until the calibration is broken and the family members learn how to get
Breaking Calibrated Communication Loops at the Transition Point of Incongruity
Fred tells his wife, Mary: "I want you to be more loving with me." His tone of voice is harsh and demanding, his eyebrows are raised, and his head bobs up and down as he finishes with a sigh, as though he is scolding a child for the hundredth time about not doing his chores. Mary tightens up and moves back slightly in her chair. (The therapist recognizes this pattern from earlier discussions.) Mary, if the therapist permits it, will repeat her part of the calibration loops. She will respond to Fred's tone of voice and his body gestures by Mind Reading
The therapist at this point can make it even more of a learning experience for the family by presenting Fred with two examples of the same communication. For example:
The therapist then presents Fred with two models or examples of communication, one incongruent, the other congruent with matching tones, gestures and words. Then, the therapist asks Fred to try it in this new way. When he does this, Mary's response is to take his hand.
The point is that people are not aware of their incongruity, and intervention at this transition point provides an opportunity for learnings which can permeate any areas, independent of the specific content. The person who learns of his incongruity, as well as those who watch and listen to this process, discovers that there is more going on than he ever realized. This leads us to the second transition point at which a therapist can intervene to break calibrated loops.
Breaking Calibrated Communication Loops at the Transition Point of Decision
When Fred initially made his first incongruent communication, Mary responded by tightening up she was calibrated (operating on a fixed generalization from the past) to respond only to his analogue communication. As she observed the process of the therapist's teaching Fred about the difference between his
From this point, the therapist can teach Mary that both sets of messages she receives are valid, and that she has been responding only to one of them to a gesture and tone which she doesn't understand. By asking, she can get helpful feedback; by continuing with the calibrated communication, she will only feel bad. At the same time, this teaches Fred that his message was clumsy, and that Mary's response was to his
Breaking Calibrated Communication Loops at the Transition Point of Generalization
The therapist may also choose to break the calibration at the transition point of
Let's examine the process of generalization more closely.
1) Fred is incongruent in his communication, presenting Mary with sets of messages which do not match. Specifically, he consciously intends to ask her for more loving, and his words match his conscious intent; he also feels helpless, and this feeling (largely outside of awareness) is reflected in his tonality, body posture and gestures. . ..
2) Mary must now respond. She sees Fred's body posture and gestures and hears his tone of voice, and she responds to that set of messages rather than to his words.
3) In her past experience with Fred (and others), the tonality she presently hears and the body posture and gestures are associated with demands he has made on her.
4) Mary's decision in step (2) above, plus her past experience with the part of Fred's incongruent communication to which she is attending and responding, lead her to the generalization that Fred is demanding something from her.
5) In the past, these demands, for Mary, have been connected with feelings of helplessness and anger at the unfairness of being imposed upon. Her response to Fred, then, is based more on these past feelings of anger and helplessness than on the present time-place situation.
The therapist needs to be aware that surface communication often contains deeper messages which, if uncovered, can help to establish feedback. This process of generalization constitutes another transition point at which calibration can be broken. For example:
Breaking calibrated communication at the transition point of generalization requires that the therapist have access to some experience which the family member has had which contradicts the generalization. Or the therapist can simply
Breaking Calibrated Communication Loops at the Transition Point of Fixed Generalizations from the Past (Complex Equivalence)
Fixed generalizations from the past is the next transition point in calibration loops and is also another juncture at which the therapist can intervene. Mary can be helped to build a program which, for the most part, will be outside of awareness, and which has the following steps:
When Mary thinks that someone is angry at her, she feels bad in a certain way. At some other point in time, when Fred is communicating with her, but he is not angry at her, if she feels bad in that same way, then she has a fixed generalization which says, "If I feel bad in this specific way, then Fred must be angry at me."
Mary has come to experience her world in a certain way, and she has learned to move in that world by paying attention exclusively to certain clues from outside of herself, while, at the same time, ignoring all of the other messages she is receiving. This limits what is possible for her to experience. By making it possible for Mary to accept and act on the other, presently unnoticed, clues, the therapist helps her to break the fixed generalization that has held her in bondage. In other words, when Fred is angry and demanding, he presents a whole set of messages. When he communicates incongruently, he presents a
Here the therapist has a chance to give new meaning and, therefore, new choices for responding to familiar behavior.
Breaking calibration loops in this way not only teaches that, just as family members are not mediums who can read minds, neither are they such good logicians, either. Most importantly, the therapist provides a model for family members to use when they have been or suspect they have been misunderstood. They learn that feedback works two ways, that uncovering the process beneath a response can be a tool to understanding as well as to being understood. The success of the therapist in breaking calibrated loops will be the model for family members later on, and the experience will also be an incentive for further change, especially when it is done lightly, gracefully, and without blame.
Once one of the calibrations is firmly enough established in the patterns of interaction of a family, the responses may be so programmed that, if one member does
This kind of pattern interruption (non-verbal exaggeration with humor) provides a vehicle to slow down the process long enough to get something new through the calibration loops. At the same time, another dimension can be added to the process, one which also affects the decision transition point by adding to the picture the message which was deleted by the calibration. For instance, in this particular case, the therapist might add these instructions to Bill:
The result of this kind of intervention is commonly that both family members have an experience which is familiar and, at the same time, humorous, with no blame, neither of them being the culprit. At the same time, they will get tired of the silliness and then will be ready to try a new way, after being presented with an exaggeration of the complete cycle all at once. The techniques for breaking calibrated Mind Reading are as numerous as the creativity of the therapist. The process, however, is always basically the same: To identify Mind Reading and make the process by which it occurred obvious enough to both parties that the need for feedback itself becomes apparent. We often end up saying to family members, "Do you have a license for fortune telling? Are you sure you have the credentials; I didn't know they were giving them out!" Then two things can be learned by the family members: First, how to break through calibration loops without blame, and, second, how to establish feedback. Breaking calibration loops opens the door for family members to begin to appreciate the different ways each family member gives and receives messages. The most important learning here is that what is
Giving Perspective of Process
(Achieving Meta Position with Respect to System Process)
The three general strategies which we are presenting in this section will, to some extent, overlap; the difference will be more of the focus of teaching. They are provided as guides to organize your behavior, not distinctions in the territory which are isolated from one another. With this in mind, we turn, now, to the concept of assisting family members to gain perspective of system process. For a therapist to help family members to achieve this, he needs to put it in a concrete form so that the family members can understand it, and that they are given a chance to see, hear, and get their gut feelings involved. System process is the ways that all of the patterns which we are explaining in this book fit together. The therapist will be able to open up a family system only to the degree that he can represent to himself that the
then the therapist's task is
For example: If the therapist were to ask Tom why he objected to Amy's going to work, Tom would probably elaborate on what he has already told the therapist and, in so doing, increase the demand on the therapist to judge who is right and who is wrong. Instead, if the therapist asks Tom
One of the most powerful techniques to achieve perspective of process of which we are aware at this time is
A father, Jack, might start out standing erect, with a rigid body, his head tilted up, appearing super-reasonable, a pillar of strength which is impenetrable. As he does this, his wife, Joyce, is kneeling in front of him in a worshiping, admiring position, staring up. Meanwhile, one by one each of their three children climbs onto Jack's back, until he can no longer bear the weight and collapses to the floor. At this point, Joyce springs up, taking a blaming posture, pointing her finger, her nostrils flaring, until Jack finally struggles to his feet and becomes a stiff board again so Joyce can kneel and worship him.
This visual display presents family members with a picture of process. It allows them to see how the patterns of their communication cycle change the content while the process remains the same.
Added perspective can be achieved by the therapist's describing the process as he moves the family members through this physical, as well as visual, process:
Step One: Jack stands erect, Joyce kneeling, children beginning to climb on Jack.
This adds yet another dimension to the process picture. The therapist can go even further and ask family members to report on their internal experience as they move through this process ballet. Jack, for instance, who is standing strong and erect, might say he actually feels lonely and like a tree branch which is about to break. While Joyce is blaming a broken Jack, she might report that she isn't really mad but scared and desperate. This, too, can add perspective to process. It might be carried yet another step by asking each family member, in each position, what would take off the strain. Jack might ask Joyce to stand up and help him instead of admiring him. As she stands, she might say, "I always wanted to help you and be on the same level with you, but I thought you could only stay strong if you thought I was weak and
A perspective of system process provides family members with a tool to use to share their different perspectives without fault-finding. This offers family members the opportunity to learn about the various choices available to them within their own family system to send and receive messages. They have a tool to comprehend these differences and to learn from them. Of course, not every family will achieve this perspective in one session; each family will develop a sense of process at its own speed, an inch at a time, and each inch will be valuable to them. The overall strategy of the therapist in assisting families to achieve this perspective requires that he is comfortable with being patient, and that he is able to tap the family's own sources of inventiveness to find ways of allowing them to achieve this perspective of process.
We wish to emphasize that the particular examples which we have presented here are precisely that examples. Our hope is that each of you will use your ability to create interesting and dynamic variations on these examples. However, we would make two suggestions:
1) Fully use the skills and resources of the family members. For example, if a family member is a sculptor or painter, or a musician, encourage them to use those mediums for learning.
2) Involve the maximum number of channels for learning when creating an experience all of the input channels (the senses), all of the representational systems, and all of the output channels. Using this principle will encourage maximum learning by all of the family members.
The crises which occur in families present all of the members with situations in which they struggle to maintain a sense of self-worth. They are caught in a vortex. It is up to you, the therapist, to distill from the data the process description in clusters of information, and to present it in a non-judgmental way, so that, instead of having to understand innumerable bits of content, the family members need only to cope with three or four steps of process. They then can gain a perspective from which to start to grow.
Transforming the System by Re-calibration
Although the most well-formed outcome of family therapy is a completely open system, with perspective, feedback, freedom to explore and take new steps, this is not achieved by the therapist's attacking and breaking calibration loops at random like a bull in a china shop. A family system is a delicate structure which serves as the basis for interaction of a group of human beings who are not perfect and who don't need to be. Who can become enlightened overnight? Patience is a prime tool for the successful family therapist. It is not our job to thoroughly transform an individual family member. This could well result in that member's becoming alien to the system, thereby placing even more stress on it. The family therapist's task, rather, is to transform the system
Concentrating on achieving the maximum amount of change with a particular family member can result in skewing the system. Each family already has the possibility of change; our task is to increase those possibilities, those choices for growth and change for
Actually, focusing on the family member who has the symptoms is taking the hard path. In order for Johnny to overcome his catatonia directly, he will have to change a tremendous amount and in many ways, especially if the change is to survive when he returns to the original family system. However, if each member of the system changes only a small amount, in a few ways, then the result is that the changes will permeate the system, and Johnny's symptoms will become unnecessary. Checking this principle is easy if you review your own experience. If you have left home and gone to college or gone in the service, or even moved away and then returned to visit your original family or old friends, you can remember how all of you had evolved and changed. So, at first, it was an awkward situation for you, and, in some cases, it may have remained that way. You returned alien to the former system, and this is just what we must avoid in family therapy if the result is to be an environment in which every member can be nurtured and can grow from the foundation of support for each which the family system will provide.
Imagine that you are standing in front of a stack of glasses, water glasses, which have been carefully placed in a pyramid so that each row of glasses supports the row above it. The top row has one glass, the next row has four glasses, the next row has nine glasses, and the one underneath that row has sixteen glasses. Each row of glasses provides a structure to support all of the glasses above it. If you wanted to take these same glasses and build a new structure which would give you greater choices about how you approached the task of getting a glass, you would not start by pulling glasses from the bottom row; you would not even take all the ones on the left. You would have to start at the top, working down a row at a time, or you would have only destruction. This is somewhat similar to how a therapist should proceed through a family therapy session. Viewing the family through the metaphor of the pyramid of glasses will help to remind the therapist that he should not succumb to the temptation to remove the glass with the smudge on it without any reference to the possible effect of his action on the other glasses.
To organize this process, you can make a rule that every interaction which opens a door or breaks a calibration must be understood by all the family members who observed it. It goes something like this:
The therapist has an interchange with the husband/ father and breaks a calibrated loop which the father has about his son's communication. The therapist then turns to the son to make sure that the boy has also broken his part of the calibrated loop and understands that the father has changed (re-calibrated). The next step is for the therapist to address himself to the mother, who has been observing, and to assist her in understanding and accepting the change in the relationship between her husband and her son. This cycle goes on, each step leading to the next, and all members tuning in as changes occur. This process also accompanies moves to achieve perspective with respect to family process, rotating from person to person, breaking calibrated loops and then re-calibrating the rest of the system to this new part. The whole process of transformation then becomes, in a sense, a new chain in which each link now connects with the next one. This guides the therapist in establishing the best speed and direction for that particular family's system. It provides a safeguard against random jumps which might unbalance the system. Thus, breaking calibration, achieving perspective with respect to family process, and constant forging of new links in the family system are the structure and strategies which weave together the individual interventions to transformation of a family system. These constitute the second phase of a family therapy session, and they also build the road which leads to the third and final stage of a family endeavor. In a sense, we, as therapists, work to reclaim the banished parts, to awaken the sleeping parts, and to connect these newly available assets for greater energy and strength. Thus, we are not really
III. CONSOLIDATING CHANGES
In the third and final phase of the family therapy session, the therapist works to consolidate the changes which the family members created as part of the model experience in Phase II. We have identified three parts to this phase:
1) Review of process of the family therapy session;
2) Getting feedback regarding the process from each member;
3) Developing and assigning homework.
This final phase is an important step in each session, whether or not the specific experience which the family members and the therapist identified in Phase I actually happened in full detail in Phase II. The fact that the family members and the therapist have been engaged in the process of working cooperatively to create something for themselves, is the foundation of every session. Again, the
The purpose of the therapist's actions in this, the final phase of the session, is to assist the family members in solidifying the gains which they secured for themselves in the session, in effect building a new family history, which now becomes a base for new confidence in taking risks to change and grow. Verily, family therapy occurs in the real world, with real time constraints. But, when a family therapy session is over, the family members have the opportunity to try their new wings on their own. The therapist works to create the conditions which will make it possible for the family to continue the process of change between sessions the returning family will be different from the departing one.
Review of the Process of the Session
A family has just involved themselves in a therapeutic session whose announced purpose is to assist the family in change. As we emphasized in our presentation of Phases I and II, the key to effective intervention by the family therapist is identifying and breaking calibrated loops in the communication patterns existing among the family members that is, supplying explicit, conscious feedback in the patterns of family communication where it no longer exists. This review has, essentially, the same elements of process, the process by which the therapist, again acting as a model of congruent communication, provides specific feedback about the session to the family members. This review of the therapeutic session by the therapist is consistent with the principle of assisting the family members in coming to understand the process by which they arrived at the place where they are now. The therapist begins his review by reminding the family members of the state which they were in when they first came to this therapy session, and then, step by step, he recounts the processes which have occurred: What happened during Phase I, the ways in which they all worked together to understand what they wanted, and then prepared to create a new experience in growth for themselves; what happened in Phase II, actions specific to the therapist and to each of the family members.
This review gives the therapist the opportunity to teach the family members his understanding of his experience in working together with them for change. He identifies the steps which he considers important in the process of family change, e.g., the identification of calibrated communication loops. He states how, in his perception of the process, the family members worked cooperatively to create new choices for themselves. He carefully enumerates the steps taken by the family in the process of gaining these new options. By this description of the process of the therapeutic session, the therapist makes explicit the tools and skills which the family needs to continue the process of growth and change which they have begun. In our experience, the most desirable outcome of a family therapy session is not simply achieving an experience which the family can use for future growth, but also is
content, a system which has, and can continue, to use effectively the patterns of coping which they, themselves, have established. The outcome which delights us the most is a family therapy session which ends with the members understanding the process which occurred in it (thereby determining the direction for continued change by identifying the next step) and explicitly learning the tools/ skills/steps in the process. Such a session affords us the opportunity provided by the experience of entering a room with closed windows, opening the windows and discovering yet another room with closed windows but also with the keys (tools) needed to enter the next one and the next one.
Getting Feedback from Family Members
Consistent with the principles of acting as a model for effective, clear communication, is the therapist's recognition that the process of feedback in an open system flows in both directions; thus, he insures that each and every family member has the opportunity to comment on his experience of the process of the therapeutic session. At the same time, of course, this checking-out with each family member allows the therapist and the other family members to comprehend the changes they have begun, to understand the way in which they can make meaning out of the process which they have been experiencing in the session, and to appreciate how they have learned the tools of the process of change. During this time, in addition to commenting on the session, the individual family members have the opportunity to ask questions to clarify portions of their experience which they do not fully understand, thus making available to them the tools which they need for further growth, and, thereby, breaking the last of their old rules. This activity also provides the therapist with a chance to help them to make sense out of their experience of the process of change in which they have involved themselves, and, further, allows him to change and to understand the new choices now available for
The process of change and growth for the family which begins in the therapeutic session does not stop when the session comes to an end. As the family returns to their home, the experiences which they created with the therapist in the family therapy session serve as a model for further change. One of the things which the therapist strives to accomplish in his review is to present the process of change which was begun in the session in such a way that the next step in the ongoing process is apparent; thus, the family will be conscious of
We have distinguished three kinds of homework assignments which we have found useful in our family therapy work. The first assignment is for the family to set aside a
a) The calibration pattern to be interrupted;
b) The capabilities of the family members involved.
For example, if the pattern to be interrupted is one in which a family member
The second class of homework is scheduled times and places for the family members to practice the
The third kind of homework which we have found useful is scheduled sessions in which the family explicitly
We have stated time and again, in as many ways as were appropriate for this book, that the overall task of the family therapist is to assist the family members in transforming compulsive patterns of behavior into patterns of
family therapists, will find useful in your work. In this first volume, we have limited ourselves to the minimum patterns which we felt are necessary for effective, dynamic family therapy. The more advanced patterns including the meta patterns we hope to make the subject of Volume II. One of the meta patterns the structure of the way in which the patterns themselves can be organized is the way that the patterns we have presented in this volume may be sequenced for effective therapy. The basic structure of Part II of this volume is one such meta pattern, the natural grouping of the patterns of Part I under the headings of:
I. Gathering Information
II. Transforming the System
III. Consolidating Changes
We offer one additional meta pattern (represented visually on pages 174 and 175) which we have found to be very effective. This meta pattern is fully consistent with the meta pattern presented above. This meta pattern has the following steps:
1. The therapist contacts each family member;
2. The therapist acts as a translator for the family members;
3. The therapist assists the family members in making contact directly among themselves.
We invite the reader to sort for himself into the three stages of this meta pattern those patterns identified in Part I.
In this book, we have emphasized the factors of change and the process for how to use them, as we understand them. We want to make it very clear that this process would be an inhuman endeavor without human caring and empathy, and without an eye to the soul and person of the individual in front of you as well as yourself. Refining the ability to find and discriminately use the parts of the change process which we have described will greatly enhance your understanding, and will help you to engage more economically in a productive, therapeutic adventure. Without the humanity, it becomes just plain brainwashing.
When we finish a book, we are oftentimes in the mood for exploring a little further and maybe reaching into some adjoining areas.
If that is now true for you, here are some other books and films to explore.
Barbach, Lonnie G.,
Birdwhistell, Ray L.
Brooks, Charles V. W.
Drakeford, John W.
Luthman, Shirley, with Martin Kirschenbaum.
Lyon, Harold C, Jr.
Miller, Sherod (ed.).
Missildine, W. Hugh.
Nierenberg, Gerald I., and Henry H. Calero.
Phelps, Stanlee, and Nancy Austin.
Rogers, Carl R.
Simeons, Albert T.
Smith, Gerald W. with Alice I. Phillips.
New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. (Collier
Books), 1973 (paperback). Original title:
Dictionary. New York: Peter H. Wyden, Inc., 1975. Spitzer, Robert S. (ed.).
Anthology of Change. Palo Alto, Calif.: Science and
Behavior Books, Inc., 1975. Thommen, George.
Books, 1976 (paperback). Tiffany, Donald; Julius Cohen; Keith Ogburn; and Analee
Kansas: The High Plains Comprehensive Community
Health Center, 1972.
Posters by Virginia Satir:
"Goals for Pairing" and "Declaration of Self Esteem." Celestial Arts, 231 Adrian Road, Millbrae, CA 94030.
Videotapes by Virginia Satir:
Films with Virginia Satir as consultant:
Ashby, W. R.
Bandler, R., and Grinder, J.
Cupertino, Calif.: Meta Publications, 1975.
Bandler, R., and Grinder, J.
Bever, T. G. "The Cognitive Basis of Linguistic Structure." In J. Hayes (ed.),
Dimond, S., and Beaumont, K.
Grinder, J.; Bandler, R.; and Cameron, L.
Grinder, J.; De Lozier, J.; and Bandler, R.
Volume II. Cupertino, Calif.: Meta Publications, 1976.
Grinder, J., and Bandler, R.
Books, Inc., 1976.
Grinder, J., and Elgin, S.
Haley, Jay (ed.).
Kartunnen, L. "Remarks on Presuppositions." At the Texas Conference on Performances, Conversational Implicature and Presuppositions, mimeograph, March 1973. Kartunnen has a series of incisive papers on presuppositional phenomena in English. We suggest you write to him directly at the University of Texas for copies.
Jackson, D. D. (ed.).
Jackson, D. D.
Laing, R. D.
Miller, G. A.; Galanter, E.; and Pribram, K.
Polster, I. and M.
Watzlawick, P.; Beavin, J.; and Jackson, D.
Watzlawick, P.; Weakland, J.; and Fisch, R.
Whorf, B. "Grammatical Categories." In J. E. Carroll (ed.),
SYNTACTIC ENVIRONMENTS FOR IDENTIFYING NATURAL LANGUAGE PRESUPPOSITIONS IN ENGLISH
Our purpose in presenting the material in this appendix is to indicate the scope and complexity of the natural language phenomenon of presuppositions. In addition, by listing some of the more common syntactic environments in which presuppositions occur, we provide an opportunity to practice for those students who are interested in sharpening their intuitions in recognizing presuppositions. The list of syntactic environments is not exhaustive, and we will not attempt to present any of the theories which have been proposed by different linguists, logicians, semanticists, or philosophers to account for presuppositions. Rather, our objective is more practical.
At the present time, presuppositions are a major focus of study for a number of linguists, especially linguists who consider themselves Generative Semanticists. In compiling this list of syntactic environments, we have borrowed heavily from the work of Lauri Kartunnen. See the Bibliography for sources.
1. Simple Presuppositions.
These are syntactic environments in which the existence of some entity is required for the sentence to make sense (to be either true or false).
a. Proper Names.
c. Definite Descriptions.
d. Generic Noun Phrases.
Noun arguments standing for a whole class. (If
e. Some Quantifiers:
2. Complex Presuppositions.
Cases in which more than the simple existence of an element is presupposed,
a. Relative Clauses.
Complex noun arguments, with a noun followed by a phrase beginning with
b. Subordinate Clauses of Time.
Classes identified by the cue words
(If the judge was home
c. Cleft Sentence.
Sentences beginning with It
(It was the extra pressure which shattered the window.) -> (Something shattered the window.)
d. Pseudo-Cleft Sentences.
(Identified by the form
(What Sharon hopes to do is to become well liked.) -> (Sharon hopes to do something.)
e. Stressed Sentences.
Voice stress (If Margaret has talked to THE POLICE, we're finished.) -> (Margaret has talked to someone.)
f. Complex Adjectives:
(If Fredo wears his new ring, I'll be blown away.) -> (Fredo had/has an old ring.)
g. Ordinal Numerals:
(If you can find a third clue in this letter, I'll make you a mosquito pie.) -> (There are two clues already found.)
(If you know better riders than Sue does, tell me who they are.) -> (Sue knows [at least] one rider.)
(If you know better riders than Sue is, tell me who they are.) -> (Sue is a rider.)
i. Comparative As:
(If her daughter is
j. Repetitive Cue Words:
(If she tells me that
k. Repetitive Verbs and Adverbs.
Verbs and adverbs beginning with re-, e.g.,
(If he returns before I leave, I want to talk to him.) -> (He has been here before.)
m. Change-of-Place Verbs:
(If Sam has
n. Change-of-Time Verbs and Adverbs:
(My bet is that Harry will
o. Change-of-State Verbs:
p. Factive Verbs and Adjectives:
q. Commentary Adjectives and Adverbs:
r. Counterfactual Conditional Clauses.
Verbs having subjunctive tense.
t. Selectional Restrictions.
(If my professor gets
(Who ate the tapes?) -> (Someone ate the tapes.)
(I want to know who ate the tapes.) -> (Someone ate the tapes.)
v. Negative Questions.
w. Rhetorical Questions.
(Who cares whether you show up or not?) -> (Nobody cares whether you show up or not.)
(I wonder if you're not being a little unfair.) -> (I Think that you're being unfair.)
in order for you to make sense out of what I have said, you must accept a world of experience in which it is true that:
Each of us as speaker/listener of the language English (the same is true of every other natural language) is constantly using presuppositions in our verbal communications. Learning to understand and use this pattern will increase the effectiveness of your communication. In this volume, we include an appendix, A, which identifies some of the many English forms which carry presuppositions. We also recommend pages 52-53 and pages 9295 in Volume I of
The use of the pattern of verbal communication called
The use of the pattern of verbal communication called
. . . this page . . .
. . . the reader . . .
. . . Virginia Satir . . .
. . . the number on this page . . .
all pick out a specific part of the reader's ongoing experience, while words and phrases such as:
. . . that particular sensation . . .
. . . people who fail to understand this sentence ...
. . . someone, sometime, somewhere, somehow, something . . .
... no one, everybody, all the times I can remember . . .
do not pick out a specific part of the reader's experience. We recommend pages 47-48 and 80-88 in
A fuller presentation of the use of this verbal pattern is available on pages 40-43, 49-51, and 59-73 in
The process of requesting that the family member specify his process descriptions that is, specify verbs is one of the ways in which the therapist insures that he or she is working with the coping pattern in the family member's model of the world and not in the therapist's own model projected onto the family member. A fuller presentation is available on pages 48-49 and 90-92 in
The therapist's (or hypnotist's) ability to identify and gracefully use the verbal patterns of
This category of verbal patterning Semantic Ill-formedness is one of the most powerful verbal patterns available to therapists and hypnotists in their communication. See pages 51-53 and 95-107 in
Cause-Effect semantic ill-formedness embodies all of the cases in which one person claims that another person is causing him to experience some feeling or thought, some inner state, without there being any direct physical contact between the two people. Our point is that each of us can come to have a choice about how the words, tones, body postures, movements, etc., of others will affect us. The technique of identifying Cause-Effect semantic ill-formedness by the language form in which it is presented is discussed in detail in
Mind-Reading semantic ill-formedness, along with Cause-Effect semantic ill-formedness, is the basis of much of the calibrated communication cycles which result in pain and dissatisfaction for family members. See
Modal operators are discussed in more detail in
The notion of representational systems refers to the way in which each of us typically represents to ourselves the world of experience. An extended presentation of this pattern and the ways in which it can be usefully employed is given in
This technique adding representational systems is meta-tactic II, discussed in Part I of
Congruency is perhaps the single most important dimension of communication which each of us, as agents of change, can develop both in being congruent in our own communication and in our ability to detect congruency and incongruency in the communication of others. See Part II,
We recommend that the reader read Parts II and IV of
We intend to explore the notion of rules, their development and utilization in therapy, in Volume II of
This phenomenon, in which changes occur in areas of behavior not expressly dealt with in the therapeutic session, is discussed in
Calibrated communication, as with all of the processes of communication, is not an inherently bad or pain-producing process. It is the basis for close teamwork, whether in the context of co-therapy, ballet, team sporting events, etc. However, just as with each communication and modeling principle of which we are aware, such calibrated communication processes must be checked for their usefulness. When these processes lead to pain and dissatisfaction for the family, they must be reexamined and new choices must be developed. Gregory Bateson presents an excellent discussion of the differences between feedback and calibration in his article, "The Bio-social Integration of Behavior in the Schizophrenic Family," in
By self-esteem we mean the person's understanding of his own worth as a human being. See