Non-Normative Systemic Therapy in a Case of Intergenerational Enmeshment

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from ┬ęKluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 1998 for The Journal of Psychology and Judaism,1998, vol. 22, pp. 115-128 This paper is based on a presentation given on December 22, 1996, at the Second Annual Nefesh Conference, held in Miami, Florida. The author wishes to express appreciation to conference organizers Dr. Norman Goldwasser and Dr. Norman Bloom; the panel, Phyllis Mayer, Chana Kahn, Dr. Shlomo Schuck, and Shimon Russel; and to Dr. Anne Rambo of Nova Southeastern University.   Abstract There are a number of differences between normative and non-normative systemic therapy. It is useful to understand normative thinking because that is a traditional orientation. Non-normative clinical work also has much to offer both philosophically and practically: It is characterized by the premise that people’s behavior makes sense given their histories and current context. Therefore, when understood from the perspective of the individual, even his or her “psychopathology” would make sense. Using a composite case analyzed in normative terms and treated non-normatively, the author illustrates how to bridge these two approaches. Solution-focused methods constitute the interventions of choice. The Orthodox psychotherapy community is familiar with systemic thinking (Wieselberg, 1992), but may not be aware of a distinction in outlook between normative (Kerr & Bowen, 1988; Minuchin, 1993) and non-normative clinical work (Andersen, 1991; Anderson & Goolishian, 1988; Boscolo, Cecchin, Hoffman, & Penn, 1987; McNamee & Gergen, 1992). Within the latter are a number of schools whose ideas have pierced mainstream therapy. Solution-focused work, pioneered by Steve de Shazer (1985, 1988a; de Shazer, Berg, Lipchik, Nunnally, Molnar, Gingerich, & Weiner-Davis, 1986; de Shazer & Molnar, 1984; de Shazer, Gingerich, &...
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