Gale Miller: The man behind the mirror behind the mirror at BFTC, interview by Mark McKergow

Abstract

Professor Gale Miller is a member of the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University, Milwaukee. He is interested in research around issues involving language and social problems, and was involved as a researcher with Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg and their team at the Brief Family Therapy Centre during the evolution of what we now know as SF therapy. These observations led to his book Becoming Miracle Workers: Language and Meaning in Brief Therapy (1997). He continues to be involved with the SF community around the world.

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22 Responses to Gale Miller: The man behind the mirror behind the mirror at BFTC, interview by Mark McKergow

  1. Eva Golding says:

    The interview gave an account of how some seemingly random ideas and ways of doing things eventually emerged as a particular body of knowledge namely SFBT.

    Now that it has been brought into discourse,as an entity that we have the representation of, we found ourselves (practitioners) inevitably think and act within the boundaries of the SFBT language. Consequently, we measure and regulate our attitude and behaviour by this entity that has been constructed by us over time. As the interviewee said,’…when you develop an identifiable approach, then you have the question about ‘is this SF?’, I miss the audaciousness of the early years’.

    ‘the audaciousness of the early years’ can mean that, when the ‘language’ for the named entity (SF) was non-existent, as the Buddhists might say, ‘no shape, no colour and no thought’, we are then in the position of unlimited possibilities. The early SF practitioners had the privilege of being in this position, we now have to consciously induce this position by telling ourselves that we need to be curious.

    • Phil Ziegler says:

      Eva–losing one’s curiosity is truly a great loss. Its so easy in our profession to start thinking we have the answers and that our colleagues who work in different ways are less effective than we are. We are all have the privilege of being in the position of unlimited possibilities even now. Just that we might not get invited to the SFBT Christmas parties.

  2. In 2000 or something I asked Steve de Shazer if the work, discipline and research that led up to the model should be seen as a nescessary part of SF, or if SF could stand on it’s own, as described in his books. He clearly indicated that the process was part of it. So, going back to basics in SF is not going back to Steve’s or Insoo’s books. It means going back to hard (but probably delightful) work: disciplined observation, research, challenging yourself, practice. The name Solution focus isn’t to be taken to seriously. Steve always, at least when I asked him, really saw him self as a Brief Therapist first, and Solution focused second. So Therapy (help clients) done Briefly (using as little resources as possible) is key.

    I agree that curiousity, like Eve Golding mentions, is the spark. But curiousity is not just a feeling, and it is not just about the client. The curiosity is about “what is going on here”. And really, really wanting to explore what we are doing and what is happening. To me, going back to the roots of SF, is going back to the roots of being curious about the therapy process itself, with all the sceptiscism, humor, and attention to scientific detail that we and our clients deserve. Even if this means that SF, as we know it, will change. But with that, the audaciousness might come back.

    Best,
    Michael K Hjerth
    Sweden

  3. Eva Golding says:

    Hi Michael,

    In your comment, you mentioned ‘attention to scientific detail’, I was wondering if you can elaborate on that, for I am ‘curious’ to find out.

  4. Hi Eva,
    By attention to scientific detail, I mean play by the rules of the scientific method as high as possible: separating causality from correlation, try things out by experimentation, describe things so that other can check it out for themselves, avoid all esoteric language, contextualise with other bodys of knowledge, use Occams razor to find the cleanest most simple explanation that is also most consistent with the rest of science (an explanation can be too simple). Detail also mean apply the right kind of causality: linear, non-linear complex. Differenty sets of rules apply to studying the chemical properties of of cytokines and the complex immunesystem they are part in. The right rules for the right scale and context. But always, never give up the ambition to to rule out correlations, biases, illusions, factoids, category mistakes. I could go on, but I’m really not a scientist, I actually dropped out from my phd studies in philosophy of science for clinical psychology and SF.

    In fact, I think it is largly a commitment to the rules of sciences that makes the study of, what used to be called unknowable things. Such as life. Consciousness is yet to elusive, but we are getting there. Now things like “heart-felt” emotions, mindfulness, and compassion are no longer in the crystal eyed new-agers hands. It linked up with science, largely part to people like Richard Davidson, Paul Ekman and others, who are as commited to rigorous science as they are to respecting the buddhist practices they study. The split between hard and soft science is not possisible to uphold anymore.

    Be well
    Michael

    • Eva Golding says:

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for the response. It is obvious that we are looking at 2 different paradigms, and discussing the differences between the essentialist and the non-essentialist perspectives. Rather than what you have described, the non-essentialist would employ skills which are driven by relativist, pragmatic and constructionist ideals, adopt a non-outcome and non-expert position that move away from the essentialised psychology found in traditional therapeutic models. Instead, the practitioners would listen to stories and would appreciate the impact of narratives on the creation of identities and on the interaction we have with the world.So it seems that, there is little room for rigorous scientific investigation.

      Eva

      • Hi Eva and Michael

        This is a very interesting discussion! I suspect that you are agreeing with each other in many ways. An interesting thing to discuss might be how one can be ‘rigorously scientific’ on the one hand (in the terms of Michael) and also appreciate the impact of narratives (in the terms of Eva). I really think that this is possible, and shows the wayu to a better kind of science.

  5. Eva,
    Not two, not one. To paraphrase a zen saying. I’m tempted to say that I work from a non-non-essensialist, non-non-expert, not-not-knowing perspective. But this is a seriously, a joke. I sometimes fall into the trap of philosophical pugilism, which is much more brutal than actual boxing, since there is no judge and we don’t agree about the rules of the ring.

    Paradigms are, as I see them, essensialist in themself. Only the essensialism is “one level up”. But where is the paradigm, what is the essence of this thing we call “science” or “narrative”. Where is the “tradition” and where is the tradition of “free from tradition”.

    There are no two paradigms. Or perhaps three, since we must also include the paradigm of “there are paradigms”. A paradigm is not the thing. The game of chess is not the rules of chess. From a constructivist perspective, nature is lost, everything changes. However, everything changes in predictable ways, connected to the “rules” or “laws” of nature. From a natural sciences perspective, nature is everything, the irregular and the unique, get’s lost, since every case is different. But: every case is the same in their “case-ness”. We cannot escape essensialism,

    Perhaps positivism is the scientific doctrine closest to post-modernism. Both tried to escape from essensialism.

    Positivist: if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck – then it just looks like a duck and sounds like a duck (if this happens everytime, we have a law, not an essence)
    post-modernist: if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck – then, from my positition, so there is no essence – it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck

    But what is a duck: if you zoom in closely, the duck dissapears – no look – no sound. If you zoom out widely – you can do longer see what it looks like or hear what is sounds like. In the first case you see cells, and in the second case you mights see a bird in general.

    The rules are different depending on angle and resolution – no angle can either reduce or disolve to other angles. But if we rigourosly aspire to build a large net of science: inside-intebetween-outside… Use appropriate rules at appropriate levels. There are no general laws in the narrative, but there are no general laws in the immunesystem either, since both are complex. There are laws in biochemistry though, and in the structure of narrative (beggining- middle-end.)

    So, not one, not two

    best
    Michael

    • Phil Ziegler says:

      Emptiness is form, form is emptiness. The Buddha said this a long time ago. I am still trying to work with that. Michael, lots of what you say above seems to reflect that teaching.

      • Eva Golding says:

        On the subject of ‘form and emptiness’,
        Tao Te Ching, chapter 11 says:

        We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
        But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
        We turn clay to make a vessel;
        But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
        We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
        And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
        Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not. (chap. 11, tr. Waley)

  6. Eva Golding says:

    Hi Michael and Mark,

    I am loving this discussion, it makes me think.

    ‘Vigorous scientific investigation’ requires an object or form first of all to investigate into, and that the investigated object is believed to be obtainable which makes it positivistically existing. The very believe that motivates vigorous scientific investigation.

    Traditional therapeutic models that are underpinned by related psychological perspectives, would assume the positivistic nature of problem, that is, an independently existing reality to which people can get access. This further suggests the traceability and the pre-existence of problems that they are there waiting to be discovered. So in this case, the role of scientific investigation is appropriate.

    In contrast to that, SFBT adopts the constructionist stance in viewing problem created and emerging from the process of social interaction, that is, problem can only be understood and seen as problem within a specific pattern of meaning and interaction. So, if ‘problem’ do not carry an objective meaning, it then seems quite futile to pursue the cause of it, nor attempting to investigate into it. Instead, SFBT seems to utilise the very nature of discursiveness as the fundamental framework by which the conversations between therapists and clients are constructed in a way that will bring ‘cure’ to the clients.

    The contrast we see is formed in relation to what it is not, the constructionist perspective that underpins SFBT supposes a reality (problem) that is manufactured by people through interaction, whilst the structuralist based approaches suppose an independently existing reality to which people can get access.

    By this note, how is it then possible to use scientific method to investigate into something that has no objective reality?

    Eva

  7. […] is what Michael Hjerth wrote recently, as a comment to an interview of Gale […]

  8. Hi Eva,
    Sorry for the long delay. Just a few thoughts, as this is a really complex an multi-fasceted topic. Not only science, but also ontology: the philosophy of what is, and the nature of reality. So, forgive me if I ramble. I’ll just think aload about a couple of things.

    First, of course you cannot use a a scientific method to investigate something that has no objective reality. But you cannot claim that something has or has not a objective reality without using science in the first place. Or is there a way to find out what is objective or not which isn’t science? (Science is not a thing but a process or an approach. If “scientists” claims something is the case that isn’t, then it is dead-science that will sooner or later fall of, and seace to be part of the process.) (But there might also, of course, be things that scientists say doesn’t exist since we cannot meassure it (yet).

    To me, SFBT makes no clear, argued, claims about the either the nature of things (ontology), or how we know things (epistemology). It is not, explicitly based- on any of that, neither constructionism, post-modernism, systems theory. Mostly SFBT is a pragmatic approach to therapy involving rules for behavior of the therapist. It is based on systematic observation of “what works”.

    This clear pragmatic approach, is not perhaps only a wonderful thing. Problems arise too. As SFBT is empty of a theory of the world, the human being, and the working of it all, we simply can’t resist supplying it up with models that “seem to fit”. Many problems arise from that. There is a risk that the “social construction” of what is called mental phenomena makes the Cartesian split even deeper. It separates the “constructed mind” from the “body/mechanism/organism”. When theory doesn’t “fit” with SFBT, we simply drop it as “scientistic”. When a theory fits, we see SFBT as supported (before having examined the viability of the theory).

    SFBT should, as I see it be open to all sorts of scientific approaches, from the biological to the social.

    The complexity sciences is part of a future solution to some of these problems. For example, the body is on one hand a mechanical organism, one one side a complex adaptive system. You can draw a clear mechanical map of the muscles and sceleton, but the immune-system can not be mapped like this. So the body is both a complicated, mechanical, and a complex, adaptive, open, system. The mind (I use the buddhist definition, of all mental phenomena) is probably both complicated/mechanical and complex/adaptive. A thoght, for example can be examined as a complex or complicated mind phenonomena or a complex or complicated embodied phenomena. There is mechanics and non-linearity almost everywhere. (you can never step into the the complex river twice, but you can step in to the same complicated river again and again, since you get wet every time)

    We would not think of a heart attack or gall-stones as social constructed, but we do think anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughs, etc as constructed. But where do we draw the line? Could it be that we are too mechanical in our view of the heart, and to little mechanical about feelings, thoughts, etc? If we cannot separate our minds from our bodies, who can we assume that social construction so easily overrides the possible physicallity of thoughts, feelings, emotions.

    I think we should allow for the a multi-perspective approach to the human being:
    • the social component to the mind (social constructionism),
    •the mind/attention/awareness component in the body (qi gong, shamata, vipassana)
    •the body component in the mind (embodied cognitive science. the importance of the vagal nerve and the enteric nervous system as parts of how the brain works).

    All levels are dependently originated, and none is primary, even if body obviously precedes mind and the social in evolutionary terms.

    For me, SFBT would do well leave the recieved view, where the bet on post-modernism and constructionism horse is self-evident. I have personally chosen to bet on all the horses: from DSM, to fMRI scans to embodied cognition, to buddhist consciousness studies, to evolutionary science and so on.

    So a problem can either be
    •socially constructed,
    •not socially constructed,
    •both socially constructed and not socialy constructed, and
    •neither socially constructed nor not socialy constructed.

    (Ouch, my head has not gotten accustomed to tetralemma thinking yet!

    To many thoughts, I’m afraid. I hope some of it makes sense of my thinking, and is of some value for you.

    Be well
    Michael

  9. I’m going to preserve this discussion as an eloquent example of qualified practitioners ostensibly highly skilled in interpretation and communication engaging in debate about their specialist subject.
    Do we read a vigorous, enthusiastic description of a distinctive new model or an attempt to discern enough characteristic features to establish tentative grounds to claim something more than an available nuance in approach?
    I read the discourse above not as an application to a theoretical patent office but as an exercise in establishing the brand-identity of an academic franchise.
    If scientific method is appropriate, then using the preceding text by what measure would you assess the efficacy of the analysis so far? If philosophical critique is appropriate, what are the specific propositions under scrutiny and what necessary truth-conditions must be met before they can be verified?
    If ever there were a study which could be described as context-rich, the human interaction between the listening-practitioner and those describing themselves with limited or impaired communication-skills is it.
    What does it mean to treat someone else as a human being?
    What are the measurable, repeatable, verifiable measures of one’s humanity?
    If method were enough to effect constructive counselling, then it could be reduced to an on-line Turing-test algorithm. However rich a musical score, it can be either played with ‘heart’ and ‘feel’ or executed with dogmatic dead-eye accuracy.

    I bear in mind Quentin Crisp’s advice ‘Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses – drag them down to your level.’
    Simplify, simplify, simplify for me.

  10. Hi Graham,
    Thank you for your thought. The only problem is that I don’t really get what you mean. Simplify please:)

    Who is protecting what brand-identity? Certainly not me. I’m not one of the SFT faithfulls in any way. In fact, I doubt the SFT is that much different, only that is has some unique features. Is anyone claiming that method is enough to construct constructive counseling? Certainly not me. Unless you consider a skilled heart or feel part of method, which I do.

    I have nothing against simplification, in fact, I have engraved a Occam qoute on my Ipod. We should simplify as much as possible, but no less. Simple, real, and relevant. But I’m vary against any reductionist simplification. Both reductionistic claims from science and the reductionistic or oversimplified views OF science.

    So, Im not trying to protect SFT. Im trying to protect SFT from oversimplification and isolation from other worthwhile approaches to help create wellbeing in the world. SFT has some unique things going for it. And it also has some glaring blind spots, partly because of its roots in what I would call interactional behaviorism, which tends to be slightly blind to inner experience and feeling and emotion as well as (neuro)biology and natural science.

    So perhaps for me it is:
    Simplicity and complexity is the yin and yang of science. Without the other, both are half, like Janus.

    Be well
    Michael

    (BTW I mentionend natural science above. Positivism and natural science are not one and the same. Your argument seems to be against positivist science, which I am also. Natural science tries to understand mechanism and processes, in measurable ways. Positivism settles with measurable, verifiable, predictable, and equates that with understanding and science. So to the positivist, method is everything, and what is not measurable is not relevant and unscientific. To the natural scientist, the not measurable is not-yet-fully-understand, but highly relevant as the source of curiosity and inventiveness of science. Einstein was not a positivist, and Darwin most certainly was not. Pavlov wasn’t while I would say that Skinner probably was.)

  11. OK, simply: Where would you place the development of this discussion of sfbt on a scale of 1= prolix sesquipdalia/ 10= lucid clarification? 🙂
    Good concise response, by the way, for one who didn’t get what I meant.
    I was directed here because I was interested to discover more about what sfbt had to offer and what made it distinctive. In my work I’m promiscuously pragmatic about appropriate responses to live and volatile situations; always happy to adopt any practical insight, strategy or tactic, any model that provides a useful provisional grid to apply to chaotic behaviour.
    So far we’re agreed that what’s presented as a ‘problem’ is not a ‘thing’ as a golf ball or a penguin are things; scientific method in this context can’t pin down what it must study, or must content itself with studying what it can pin down.
    My cavil was not with scientific method but with its appropriateness in evaluating therapeutic effectiveness. No-one is claiming that method is enough to effect counselling, it was an extension of this point and, note, in agreement with your own sentiments.
    Philosophical method can provide a commentary but in any practical sense it’s beside the point. You mentioned earlier that ontology is ‘the philosophy of what is, the nature of reality’, which I understood to be epistemology.
    I do agree that ontology, the examination of perceptions of self, is very much at the heart of my working dialogues. It comes in the form of : how do I discover which aspect of this situation this individual sees as the problem and are they correct? (see Wittgenstein if you like for the problematic aspects of the authority of such perception): then, which approach might be appropriate to this individual and how do I present it in a way that effectively fits with his/her world view?
    Responses explaining how sfbt applies practically to that process will be very welcome.

  12. Graham, I did’t think I was in a conversation about sfbt as such. A lot of it is my response to Eva’s question(ing) of “‘attention to scientific detail’. The discussion developed from there, me trying to describe a my not necessarily very centric appraoch to SFT. So the scale is not answerable:) I don’t know I my writings make anything more clear or not. I only try to be as precise as I can with what I think, and in a language which not my first.

    I am not really the best person to represent how SFBT people talk about SFT or therapy. My roots is still in what I learned from Steve de Shazer and others, but I’m picking up just as much from other places, and a lot of it comes from neuroscience, embodied cognition, and complexity as well as Daoist and Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and internal martial arts. I’m also as interested in in picking SFT apart as picking it up. For more normal SFT, seek out one of the list-serves, or the solworld-ning site.

    Reg. ontology, the fight is still on about that world, in the continental traditions the usage of the words are different than in anglosaxon philosophy, which was my main “school” when I started philosophy in Sweden many years ago. Ontology is there definined in the classic way as the study of reality, existance or being, and epistemology with the study of knowledge about the same. In some german/french philosophy being/knowing becomes intertwined, and therefore the ontology/epistemology intertwine. The words have become hard to use, as meanings woolble to much. And for this reason I prefer phenomenology as the term to describe the study of experience.

    My views on therapy is very much rooted on the thinking and research of Fransesco Varela who wrote Tree of Knowledge with Humberto Maturana. And in their autopoietic theory, being/knowing is very much dependenly arising, to use buddhist terminology (which Varela later used himself).

    This view is not very common among SFT people who often refer to social constructionism, discursive psychologist, or are simply pragmatic good people, not bothering much with theory, but good conversationalists, trying to help. The latest trend is to take on lately complexity adaptive systems theory, and this, I’ve realized is actually quite close to my own thought.

    But again. I’m not a good representative for how SFT people talk about their work. I hate the beloved word “wow”, I think “the client is the expert” is nonsense, and I think that “not-knowing” is a no-word. I fear some people have me wash my mouth for saying this. I can go on, I like much of CBT. I don’t mind medication. I diagnose. I love SFT, but I’m not faithful.

    So this conversation-thread is, to answer your scaling question, pretty wacko if the purpose was to elucidate SFT, a 1,2 perhaps. I had to look prolix sesquipdalia up, I’m not sure quite sure if it is an insult or not. My english is not that good. I don’t mind long words when they lead somewhere. And being non-english, some of them latin-english words have that juicy taste. And you seem to be quite good at the very same art of of sesquipedalian-ing too:)

    Be well
    Michael

    • Eva Golding says:

      Hi,

      I was telling myself not to write in for I really can’t spare the time, but then I couldn’t resist the temptation upon following the recent line of discussion.

      Discussion, argument, debate or whatever you call it is a healthy process that helps to further the development of knowledge, meanwhile provides a platform for the participants to express ideas and insights.

      The exchange of ideas as we are doing, is a form of social interaction through which specific meaning is created. As such, through reading the discussions and contributing mine, my horizon has been broadened. That is, the landscape of my mind is perpetually changing in accordance with how I interact with the world.

      In other words, each interaction is an unique experience that is not repeatable, for each single interaction contains elements (people, their thoughts, knowledge, context and aims etc) that vary, which makes meaning fleeting for it only emerges from the specific interation.

      However, it is this meaning making, the co-creation of meaning between people that forms our world. In SF practice, practitioner and client interaction is the reflection of this meaning making process. Through the collaboration between practitioner and client, they together co-construct a preferred reality that is believed to be helpful and useful to this particular client.

      Though SFBT is seen as a recent approach, however it has also developed and evolved over time mainly by the exchanging of ideas and insights through discussions, debates and arguments such as this. Using Michael’s term of ‘the latest trend’, I think for SF practice, the latest trend is moving towards The idea of systems and narratives as the foundation of personal identity, for more and more we are systematically encouraged to ‘find our real selves’, because ‘we’re worth it’.

      Eva

  13. Eva, thanks for this. The narrative element certainly chimes with me. I’m very aware of the roles ‘my’ kids cast themselves in, often in narratives of honour and revenge and lone justice borrowed from current subcultures in the absence of generally agreed community rules. I’m interested in potentially using sfbt as a kind of ‘script-doctoring’ for the impoverished movies they construct around themselves.
    Often in their black/white, wrong/right editorial, my attempt to introduce the novel rule of ‘what if?’ can appear radical and unsettling. To that extent an understanding of the semiology of modern folk-tales (MTV; Nintendo games; rap; porn) is as useful as psychological insight.
    Far from ‘hard science’, if this has to have a handle maybe it’s a ‘hard humanity’ and in this I hope I’m echoing some of what Michael has expressed.
    Given that sfbt is turning in the direction of narrative threads, would it not be fruitful to develop its vocabulary on the lines of literary and dramatic critique? What story is being told and how? Is it drawn from a tradition? (this can be as recently traditional as the rules for alien abduction stories, which are in turn remarkably close to pre-industrial tales of fairy abduction – I should add that this example is not a very pressing concern where I work)
    I take what Michael says also about nuances of translation – and thanks for not obliging us to do this in Swedish – so is ‘natural science’ what I understand as the 18th/19th century study of ‘natural philosophy’? I think there’s much to be said for that general, acute curiosity. While there are areas of psychology that are rightly and usefully ‘scientific’ I like to remind myself that a lot of the work I do would until recently have been described simply as ‘pastoral care’.
    And again to echo Michael’s complexity/simplicity: the skills of establishing rapport are often easy to do and it’s palpable when it happens but the condition of that state is maddeningly elusive to capture in words.
    I also bear in mind that the only reason we can make effective interventions is that everyone ‘does’ psychology and you can go quite deep into the Asperger’s/ autism range before that ceases to be true.
    I’m absolutely not interested in establishing academic cred; absolutely committed to making sense of the stories that come my way drawn from the lives of those I have the presumption to believe I might help.

  14. carey glass says:

    Well this may be five months too late….but Eva just pointed me in this direction. You guys are getting to the heart of my on-going dilemmas. I am interested in Mark’s thought about combining scientific observation and constructivism. When I first came across SF its “anti-scientific” stance really disturbed me. I put this thought to Insoo at a conference who fudged the point but went on about the importance of traditional science. However if constructivist approaches have merit then isn’t scientific method simply an agreement developed through discussion (social construction) about what is “truth”? Does repeating something continuously to a 95% or more confidence interval necessarily mean anything other than that it is replicable? When we get a result that doesn’t fit we look for errors in scientific method to explain them – maybe we should be looking at this “exception” as telling us something new…. Any thoughts to confuse me further would be welcome!!

    • I may be in a minority here, but I think SF is a very scientific approach – on a very small sample (one person or family or whatever) in terms of engaging in a search of what could be a better life and how they can participate in it more satisfactorily. Science is (according to most who have thought about it including my old Prof John Ziman at the Bristol Physics Department) ‘intersubjective’. The more people agree on something, the truer it is. Something we all agree on is a ‘fact’ (to all intents and purposes – see the Daily Mail for regular uncomfortable demonstrations of this).

      The one-time SF approach is, however, an APPROACH, not a recipe for what anyone should DO when confronted by a particular problem/issue. It seems to work quickly about 70=80% of the time across a wide range of kinds of problem. That seems to me to be ‘scientific’ too.

  15. Hi again. If truth is defined by number of people agreeing, then the minority can newer claim truth:) Intersubjectivity no doubt plays a big role in science too, but not to the point of relativism or constructionistic relativism. The more people agree on someting the more they believe it. And if belief equals truth, then we are in a big slippery slope to extreme relativism, and the cult of the flying spaggetti monster and flat earth society. But I’m sure this is not what you mean, Mark. Myself, I’m more convinced by the buddist philosophy notion of interdependence and Co-dependent arrising: things do not exist in themself but only in relationship to other things, that in turn depend on other things. They are empty in the sense of empty of self-separate existance. (This is quite similar to the Daoist ideas of Taiji and Yin/Yang interdepdence). Scientific propositions are therefor not separable from the rest of the world, and in that sense relative: things exist interdependently. There are no independent facts, but not interdendent facts are equal. Since this is not the same as relativism. I prefer “realist relationalism”.

    The strenght of SF might be that it targets non-specific factors more than other approaches (not exactly the same as common factors, not all non-specific factors in therapy are common). No quarell with science here. A generally health lifestyle is often better that specific medication. And the way forward to find a way to mix and maximize the non-specific streghts of SF with the specific salutogenic streghts of positive psychology and “buddhist” CBT AND (yes, I stand for this) the streghts of pathogenic traditions (sometimes problems are caused be a pathogen, and the elimination of that can make a big difference too)

    SF DOES have a kind of recipe for what do to in a particular situation, only that the recipe is the same non-specific recipe: find out what you want to see happen, what difference that would make, what could make it happen, and what you can do about it. It is a recipe, but a non-specific one for approaching a general solution “state” partly defined by the dissapearance of the problem (as a problem).

    Since SF and CBT and other models tend to grow into more or less self contained models (a network of ideas that supports itself, and refutes the other models) – that kind of mix is difficult, and the risk of muddiness is great. Some kind of trancendent, or inbetween, model is required. I’m working on some ideas to solve the puzzle with my 4-quadrant model (PS-ST: Pathogenetics/Salutogenetics/Solutions-Focus/Tragedy) More about that when I’m more clear about it.

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