Second-Order Change in Couple and Family Therapy
Name of Concept
Change of change; Meta-change; Trait change
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California, hosted a variety of professionals from multiple disciplines, including human communication research, psychiatry, and anthropology. This was before “couple, marriage, and family therapy” was a distinct discipline. Several original members of the MRI team shared their understandings of change, specifically second-order change, with the broader community of helping professionals in 1974, through their book, Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution. There, they describe second-order change in relation to another type of change, first-order change.
Theoretical Context for Second-Order Change
According to group theory, which is a theory of relationships between elements and wholes, the first type of change (i.e., first-order/state change) happens within a group, where afterward, the...