Family therapy

The historic heritage of the Family Therapy Academy

Family therapy was born in the U.S. culture of the 1950s and developed in two different directions, one based on system theories at the MRI in Palo Alto (Bateson, Watzlawick and Jackson) and the other one psychodynamic/relational with the innovative ideas of Ackerman, Boszormenyi-Nagy, Framo, Bowen, Whitaker and  with Minuchin structural approach.

Here are the pioneers of family therapy who have been most influential in Maurizio Andolfi professional and personal development and who inspired the Accademia di Psicoterapia della Famiglia.

The pioneers of family therapy

Born in southern Russia to a wealthy family of Jewish merchants, he emigrated to the United States in 1912. After practicing child psychoanalysis for many years, in 1937 he published an early article on family therapy, a discipline he would later embrace fully in the remainder of his life. Ackerman was the person who coined the metaphor of the child as the scapegoat of the family.

Born in the U.K., he had a multifaceted mind ranging from ‘anthropology, conducting studies in New Guinea and Bali, to the social sciences and linguistics. His interest in cybernetics and paradox studies led him to become the Director of the Mental Health Institute (MHI) in California, to formulate the famous double-bond theory, and to give birth to systems thinking, along with Don Jackson, Jay Haley and Paul Watzlawick.

Coming from a large family that owned a funeral home in a remote Tennessee hamlet, he acquired a decidedly psychodynamic training at the Karl Menninger’s Institute. In the late 1950s, he developed his “Bowen Family System Theory“, introducing fundamental concepts such as differentiation of the self from the family of origin, emotional cutting, and intergenerational transmission of immaturity processes. 

Third-born of five children in a family of Italian descent who emigrated to Philadelphia, he developed an original model of intergenerational couple therapy. Collaborated for many years with Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, with whom he founded the Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute.

Hungarian psychiatrist who moved to Philadelphia, where he taught for many years at the Hahnemann Medical College and collaborated with Framo and Bowen on the development of psychodynamic  oriented family therapy. Together with Spark he introduced the concept of “Invisible Loyalties” and became a proponent of contextual family therapy.

After obtaining a Master’s degree in Fine Arts, he became a researcher at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, where he took part in the Bateson Project in studies on the double bind. He later followed work on Milton Erickson hypnosis and Minuchin structural therapy to become the leading representative of the Strategic Family Therapy.

Born in Argentina to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, he drew from his childhood life experiences a sense of family structure as a site of organization, interdependence and rules to safeguard the functioning of the family system as a whole and the margins of freedom of each member. His most original contributions are the structural model, psychosomatic disorders in adolescence, family therapy with children, and the training of family therapists. 

Born in Milan, she overcame a difficult relationship with her parents thanks to her resilience. She began with psychoanalytic training and then opened up to the systemic approach, later integrating it with developmental theories. She is the first in Italy to introduce family therapy with the first Milanese group, which included L. Boscolo, G. Cecchin and G. Prata. Her clinical work and research on psychosis and eating disorders are fundamental.

Born in Wisconsin to a humble family of German descent, she demonstrates exceptional empathic characteristics in therapy. She is a social worker and the first woman in an all-male pioneer group. She develops a humanistic-experiential approach, integrating Gestalt and systemic theories. Her most original contribution is the use of the body and physical contact in therapy, introducing the use of family sculpture.

Raised in New York State on an isolated farm, he graduated from medicine and specialized in gynecology, later dedicating himself to psychiatry and becoming the leading representative of symbolic-experiential therapy. An influential but isolated figure, for him therapy is a profound encounter between the clients’ inner world and his own. He introduced co-therapy as a model of intervention and supervision.

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