Positive Connotation in Milan Systemic Therapy
Positive connotation is a counterparadoxical intervention conceived by Mara Selvini Palazzoli, Luigi Boscolo, Giuliana Prata, and Gianfranco Cecchin, members of the Milan Center for the Study of the Family and creators of Milan Systemic Family Therapy. It is based on the fundamental belief that symptoms – even psychotic ones – arise out of a family system’s attempts at maintaining homeostasis and cohesion instead of from individual psychopathology. In its purest form, a positive connotation is a therapist’s expression of neutrality in regard to the family system and the presenting problem; it is conceived out of a process of hypothesizing; and it is informed by data gathered through circularity of inquiry. Successful positive connotation results in “a restructuring of the therapist’s consciousness” regarding presenting problems and the family system (Boscolo et al. 1987, p. 7).
In their seminal work, Paradox and Counterparadox (Selvini Palazzoli et al. 1978), the authors...
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