BRIEF STRATEGIC THERAPY - GIORGIO NARDONE

The origins of Brief Strategic Therapy can be traced back to the Theory of Communication, which developed as a result of the anthropological studies conducted by Gregory Bateson. Constructivist models derived from cybernetics (Heinz von Foerster, Ernst von Glasersfeld) and Milton Erickson’s studies of hypnosis and suggestion were also important influences in the development of this approach. In more recent times, the formulation of the strategic model of brief psychotherapy has stemmed from the work of therapists of the Palo Alto school (Bateson, Jackson, Watzlawick, Weakland) and the Brief Therapy Center. In the 1970s, results obtained by these researchers were presented to the international community of psychotherapists by the Mental Research Institute at Palo Alto.

In its current form, the manner in which Brief Strategic Therapy is formulated derives from a longstanding collaboration between Paul Watzlawick and the Italian therapist Giorgio Nardone. This work led to an evolution of the approach in the direction of a formulation of a set of advanced therapeutic techniques, which have demonstrated their surprising effectiveness and efficiency when applied to some of the most invalidating and persistent forms of pathology (panic, phobias, obsessions and compulsions, eating disorders, ‘presumed psychosis’, etc.).

The fundamental concept upon which the brief Strategic Therapy approach is based is the conviction that psychic disorders are generated starting from a series of maladaptive perceptive, emotional and cognitive modalities assumed by an individual with respect to reality, thereby facilitating the emergence of dysfunctional reactions and behaviour, which, instead of solving, perpetuate the problem from which he/she is suffering.
The chief aim of Brief Strategic Therapy is the short-circuiting of the particular vicious circle created between the manifestation of the disorder and the maladaptive behaviour presented by a person in an attempt to solve it, but which nevertheless ends up by reinforcing and aggravating the problem. The method has a structure featuring 3 separate phases:

  • Examination of the specific characteristics of a problem.

  • The identification of already attempted solutions.

  • Replacing the dysfunctional solutions, which, instead of solving the problem, tend to reinforce it, with others, which, on an experimental basis, have been shown to be effective in achieving the desired results.

The characteristic peculiar to this therapeutic approach is thus a focusing on ‘how’ a disorder is structured and self-perpetuates and not on ‘why’ it developed. In this way, the work and energy of both patient and therapist are totally concentrated on the disorder “as it presents at the moment”, and avoiding a lengthening of the therapeutic process by seeking the causes of a patient’s malaise, which are often quite remote and not easy to trace.

Fundamentally, the ‘strategic’ method aims at modifying a patient’s perception of reality. This result can be attained through a restructuring of the patient’s evidently dysfunctional manner of perceiving the world and reacting in relation to reality. The restructuring of the subject’s outlook already begins during the first sessions of therapy, in which the person learns to access resources he or she already possessed but was incapable of exploiting, and thereby creating a new way of seeing and perceiving the situations which until a short time before had represented a problem. In particular, Brief Strategic Therapy has elaborated specific treatment protocols for Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia, Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Hypochondriasis, Eating Disorders (Anorexia N., Bulimia N., purging and vomiting), Depression, Sexual Disorders, disorders usually appearing in childhood, family problems and marital problems.


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8 - Bioenergetic therapy