Family And Systemic Therapies Shift From First-Order To Second Order Essay

Length: 7 pages Sources: 15 Subject: Psychology Type: Essay Paper: #81794575 Related Topics: Family Dynamics, Family Therapy, First Aid, Family Assessment

Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Shift From First-order to Second-Order Cybernetics in the Family and Systemic Therapies The strategic family therapy model came up in the 1950s and was inspired by two primary works: the works of Milton Erickson who came up with revolutionary paradoxical interventions which took advantage of people's resistance to change to help alter psychiatric symptoms first; and the works of Gregory Bateson and the Palo Alto Group that made use of cybernetics in communication patterns of the family. The style of a therapist changes as he or she gets better as a person and as they develop professionally, and also as per what is in fashion at the time. An older person has the chance to look at what happened in their past and see what worked and what failed. This gives them a better perspective of what works and what might not work for a given situation. The path is important in growing as a professional (Minuchin et al., 2007).

Mara Selvini-Palazzoli, who was one of the great pioneers of the field, was courageous enough to share the mistakes she had made and the projects she was starting on. Every new project had with it the necessary certainty, seemingly, so as to give her the push to go on. But again, to the amazement of her followers and students, another beginning followed and it had similar certainty. Circular questioning replaced paradoxes; invariable prescriptions superseded family games and her mates Cecchin and Boscolo adopted a focus on construction of meaning (Minuchin et al., 2007).

The position assumed in this paper

The paper argues that both first and second order cybernetics have limitations that lead to subjective family descriptions. It is clear that as therapy-processes developed objective classifications and deductions of families-based research became challenging; this challenge has little to do with different researchers perceiving family from diverse viewpoints and more to do with the methodological limitations inherent in both first-order and second-order cybernetics in the family and systemic therapies.

Perspective on Reality

Drawing from the perspective of first order cybernetic someone could ask what reality really is. The question would therefore not be in harmony with the perspective of the second order cybernetic as it implies that there is just but one value or construct for the idea of reality. It implies a truth which can be obtained and discovered and which can be made use of as a sample. The second order perspective is opposed to the idea of the existence of a finite truth and a real objective world (Baron, 2007).

Our perception of reality was challenged by Maturana. He concluded from his findings that there wasn't a way to be certain of the existence of what we are thinking we are seeing. His proposal was of a self-enclosed nervous system. He talks about structural coupling. This, as per Hoffman (1985), is like skipping a rope while your eyes are closed. The stimulus isn't actually "obtained" or "touched" but rather invisible mutually constrained trajectories are generated and their connections present themselves on your panel. Reality therefore is a construct of the society. Our perception of reality isn't a match of the objects and events in our environment but is actually observer-dependent (Boscolo et al., 1987; Baron, 2007).

Evidence Base Politics

There is great pressure from private and public funding for mental health on family therapists today for them to demonstrate evidence. There is tough competition from cognitive and biological therapies that have the backing of powerful and notable voices that represent clinical psychology and psychiatry disciplines. The recent past has seen practitioners being encouraged by a growing body of research that show family therapy to be effective in several clinical problems and populations (Campbell, 1997; Carr 2000a, 2000b; Pinsoff and Wynne, 2000; Sprenkle, 2003). For instance, Sprenkle (2003) edited an entire "gold standard" outcome research volume showing that family therapy as a discipline is becoming evidence-based (Asen, 2004).

It isn't long ago when a significant population of systematic therapists made the argument that systemic paradigm that focuses on circularity isn't very much compatible with the linear methods of research of the modern times. While people need to appreciate the possibility of various perspectives clashing in the...


Actually, research has been ongoing in systemic therapy for a long time now. There are several studies in the field having varying quality. There is a huge amount of data available and good summaries of these studies and data can be found easily. Based on the criteria for evidence levels, as National Service Outlined, Type I evidence for a good number of presentations and conditions is available. Significant Type II evidence and even a higher number of Type III are also available. Also available is type IV and V evidence (Asen, 2004). Criticism of the Second-Order Approach

Second order approaches are known for advocating the stance of "no hidden agenda." Becvar and Becvar (2006) opine that while being transparent about the intention one has may be a representation of sincerity and an attempt to not manipulate others, the approach still tries to influence as the relationship is bound by the rule that there are no hidden agenda. Such a stance, to say the least, is a hidden agenda as well! Explicitly acknowledging the purpose you have is only a revelation of a hidden agenda. There aren't any relationships that do not have hidden agendas or manipulative antics (p. 207).

Becvar and Becvar cite Gollan on his opinions about unconscious persuasion. Golan says that that this kind of persuasion may be perceived as more offensive ethically when compared to an explicit transparent approach as it may be compounded by dishonesty and has a tendency to create a bigger power hierarchy that favors the therapist. So, Golan thinks that seduction is involved in second-order approaches just as much as they are in other approaches advocating the same stand on non-manipulation and respect (as cited in Baron, 2007).

Ethical Conduct Enhancement

Becvar and Becvar (2006) bring to light other concerns relating to second-order cybernetics. One is bound to come across such questions when seeking answers on ethical concerns on both the first-order and second-order approaches. Being aware of these concerns allows the therapist to tackle ethical concerns in therapy consciously (Baron, 2007).

The second-order approach attempts to moderate the stance of the first order approach. It raises questions on "facts" which therapists believe in and so lets them establish their own beliefs and values. It seems the two stances complement one another. The contrast between the two approaches is similar to the way family/systemic therapy is contrasted with individual therapy. Nonetheless, in the course of family therapy, the therapist should know the individual as well as the needs specific to him or her. This is also applicable in first-order therapy as far as though patterns accounting for varying viewpoints are concerned (Baron, 2007).

Becvar and Becvar (2006) discuss the varied hats worn by a therapist. How can a person live according to the principles pushed by the second-order approach in the Westernized positivistic society? The only explanation is the varied hats worn by a therapist. Fortunately or unfortunately, the hats can be swapped to suit various contexts. What is important is being aware of the available alternatives. The person develops the awareness of the possibility of changing roles so that they meet the needs of that specific context. This dimensional approach to the two approaches allows for the integration of their polarities (Baron, 2007).

Second order approaches examine the behavior of therapists in the process of therapy. Central to the therapy process is the language used by the therapists and also the values and attitudes they have. In several second-order approaches, the therapist's stance is accounted for while this is not the case in several of the first-order approaches, at least not with the same weight. Being aware of the effect bodily state has on conversation is very important. The bodily states indicate how much you care, and also show sharing and trust. Active listening promotes reflection as a way of reconstructing meaning (Griffith & Griffith, 1992). The therapist ought to know the family members' bodily states as well as his or her own state. Being aware of facial expressions, breathing, posture, voice tonality and eye contact gives a deeper understanding of what is transpiring during the therapy. The first order is therefore complemented by the second order here (Baron, 2007).

The first-order fails to comprehensively take care of the relationship between the client and the therapist. A therapeutic atmosphere is a co-creation of the people involved. Openness, respect and curiosity are manifested jointly by the individuals involved but the therapist has the responsibility to go into a therapy room having an emotional posture which encourages the evolution of factors like this (Griffith and Griffith, 1992; Baron, 2007).

Critical Evaluation of Second…

Sources Used in Documents:


Asen, E. (2004). Outcome research in family therapy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, vol. 8, pp. 230-238

Asen, K.E., Berkowitz, R., Cooklin, A., et al. (1991). Family therapy outcome research: a trial for families, therapists and researchers. Family Process, 30, 3-20.

Baron, P. (2007). Ecosystemic psychology; first and second order cybernetics.

Baucom, D., Shoham, V., Mueser, K., et al. (1998). Empirically supported couple and family interventions for marital distress and adult mental health problems. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 53-88.

Cite this Document:

"Family And Systemic Therapies Shift From First-Order To Second Order" (2015, April 07) Retrieved June 7, 2023, from

"Family And Systemic Therapies Shift From First-Order To Second Order" 07 April 2015. Web.7 June. 2023. <>

"Family And Systemic Therapies Shift From First-Order To Second Order", 07 April 2015, Accessed.7 June. 2023,

Related Documents
Structural Family Couselling Approach Family Counseling Approach
Words: 3397 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Psychology Paper #: 15348691

Structural Family Couselling Approach Family Counseling Approach FAMILY COUNSELING APPROACH RESEARCH PAPER Structural Approach to Family Counselling Families vary across the cultures, just as individuals vary within the family structure but the overall concept of family therapy or counseling is universal. The aim of family counseling is to assist families work through family challenges and create solutions that respect all the members in the family unit (Winek, 2010). An individual objective becomes the

Students With Disabilities Who Did
Words: 17241 Length: 60 Pages Topic: Teaching Paper #: 2573798

The shift toward standardized testing has failed to result in a meaningful reduction of high school dropout rates, and students with disabilities continue to be marginalized by the culture of testing in public education (Dynarski et al., 2008). With that said, the needs of students with specific educational challenges are diverse and complex, and the solutions to their needs are not revealed in the results of standardized testing (Crawford &

Military Employee Stress the Objective
Words: 18029 Length: 66 Pages Topic: Military Paper #: 44323703

The subjects were 613 injured Army personnel Military Deployment Services TF Report 13 admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from March 2003 to September 2004 who were capable of completing the screening battery. Soldiers were assessed at approximately one month after injury and were reassessed at four and seven months either by telephone interview or upon return to the hospital for outpatient treatment. Two hundred and forty-three soldiers

Lesbian Health Issues Living in a Heterosexual Society
Words: 25618 Length: 75 Pages Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality Paper #: 85400519

Lesbian Health Care Lesbian Health Issues in a Heterosexual Society The additional burdens placed on the lives of minorities as a result of social exclusion can lead to health disparities. Social exclusion theory has been used in previous research to investigate the health disparities that exist between socioeconomic classes and individuals of different ethnic backgrounds living in the United States, but it has not yet been applied to another important minority group:

Neurofibroma: Genetic Traits and Impact
Words: 5537 Length: 15 Pages Topic: Health - Nursing Paper #: 52789543

However, recently, anesthesiologists have suggest a low to mid thoracic epidural combined with adequate general anesthesia. This anesthetic technique will allow for adequate inter-operative monitoring. After the operation, the anesthesiologist must continue to monitor the patient for either hypertension, hypotension and hypoglycemia. The presence of either of these conditions may alter the course of the medication given to the patient once the patient is removed from the anesthesia. Respiratory System Neurofibroma

Social Work Is a Field
Words: 5719 Length: 15 Pages Topic: Sports - Women Paper #: 98222205

While he supported me in my endeavors, he raised many questions, >Why do you want to enter social work? How do you think you are going to provide for your family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to?" Deferring to socialization pressures that still impel them to fulfill the "breadwinner" role and avoid feminine characteristics, they may segregate themselves from women in the profession, selecting specialties or positions that