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Negative Explanation, Restraint, and Double Description: A Template for Family Therapy

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Abstract

Gregory Bateson's notions of negative explanation, restraint, and double description are discussed. The difficulties that families often experience in the discovery of new solutions to problems are explained according to the terms of these notions. A map for therapy is derived that emphasizes the therapist's contribution to the therapeutic system's state of “readiness” for the discovery of new solutions. Details of therapist/family participation in the endurance of new discoveries are examined. An approach to the treatment of the context for childhood fears and obsessive/compulsive behavior demonstrates one application of this map.

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