Ordeals in Couple and Family Therapy
Action methods; Ordeal technique; Paradoxical interventions; Symptom prescription
The use of ordeals as a therapeutic strategy was developed by Jay Haley and is rooted in his strategic family therapy background and his long association with Milton Erickson (Haley 2011). While working with Erickson and learning hypnosis, Haley found that Erickson often used brief therapeutic strategies with clients that imposed on them absurd dilemmas which ultimately led to therapeutic change. Haley found that he, himself, was utilizing a similar strategy by, for example, “curing a women’s severe headaches by encouraging her to have the headaches as a way to get control of them” (p. 3). These strategic interventions became known as ordeals and are closely linked to the paradoxical interventions used in hypnosis and strategic therapy.
Ordeals are grounded in strategic family therapy. Strategic therapy is a brief form of therapy characterized by the therapist...
- Haley, J. (2011). Ordeal therapy: Unusual ways to change behavior. Bethel: Crown House Publishing Limited.Google Scholar