On Becoming A Sorcerers Apprentice

The different forms of psychotherapy are all effective to some extent, although they look very different to most observers. The fact that these seemingly different approaches to the therapeutic encounter are all to some extent effective was a puzzle for some years. During these years both practitioners and theoreticians spent much energy and creativity arguing the necessary superiority of one form of psychotherapy over the others. In recent years, fortunately, this kind of debate has begun to disappear and psychotherapists from different schools have begun to show a lively interest in the methods and techniques of others. As Haley has commented, (Advanced Techniques of Hypnosis & Therapy, pp.

In the last decade, the idea of exploring new methods has been adopted by many psychiatrists and has led to such innovations as behavior therapy, conditioning treatment, and marital and family therapy. We have seen the passing of an emphasis upon ritual and a move toward judging therapeutic procedures by results instead of conformity to a particular school. It has even become respectable now to work in different ways with different types of patients ... (Haley quoting Erickson directly) ... "One of the important things to remember about technique ... is your willingness to learn this technique and that technique and then to recognize that you, as an individual personality, are quite different from any of your teachers who taught you a particular technique. You need to extract from the various techniques the particular elements that allow you to express yourself as a personality. The next most important thing about a technique is your awareness of the fact that every patient who comes in to you represents a different personality, a different attitude, a different background of experience. Your approach to him must be in terms of him as a person with a particular frame of reference for that day and the immediate situation."

People who come to us in therapy typically have pain in their lives and experience little or no choice in matters which they consider important. All therapies are confronted with the problem of responding adequately to such people. Responding adequately in this context means to us assisting in changing the client's experience in some way which enriches it. Rarely do therapies accomplish this by changing the world. Their approach, then, is typically to change the client's experience of the world. People do not operate directly on the world, but operate necessarily on the world through their perception or model of the world. Therapies, then, characteristically operate to change the client's model of the world and consequently the client's behavior and experiences.

Certain therapists, coming from dramatically different-appearing forms of psychotherapy, have come to be recognized as particularly effective in assisting clients in changing their experiences. Their behavior in psychotherapy appears to be extremely systematic to us in that they have a set of powerful techniques for directly challenging and expanding the client's model of the world. These techniques have been widely adopted by other therapists, but, unfortunately, without the dramatic results typical of this first group. The difference here seems to us to be that the first group of therapists have very clear intuitions about how to employ these techniques to challenge and expand the client's model. In other words, these psychotherapists are able to identify when the use of some particular technique is appropriate. The use of these same techniques by others often leads to very uneven results; sometimes they will succeed dramatically, other times they appear to miss altogether; at times the use of these techniques appears to

We have thus far in this book presented a Meta-model for use by therapists in their verbal exchanges in the therapeutic encounter. The Meta-model is a tool that is available to therapists from any school of psychotherapy. Its practicality is two fold: first, it offers explicit direction (i.e., step-by-step and, therefore, learnable) for what to do next at any point in the therapeutic encounter, and second, anyone who is a native speaker of English already has the intuitions necessary to use the Meta-model and he only needs to become conscious of these intuitions.

As we have stated repeatedly, our Meta-model does not, by any means, exhaust the choices or possibilities of what a therapist might do in the therapeutic encounter. Rather, it is designed to be integrated with the techniques and methods in already established forms of psychotherapy. The integration of the explicit Metamodel with the techniques and methods of therapy in which you are already skilled will not only expand the choices you have as a therapist, but it will increase the potency of your style of therapy by making the interventions you use directed explicitly at expanding your client's model of the world. Thus, the Meta-model gives the therapist an explicit strategy for therapy.

We have two major goals in this final chapter:

1. We will select and present a number of these techniques from different forms of psychotherapy; in each case, we will demonstrate how these techniques implicitly challenge and expand the client's model. Thus, they share with the explicit Meta-model we have presented here the goal of operating directly on the client's representation of the

2. We will show how these techniques link up with the explicit steps in our Meta-model in a way which indicates

The Second Ingredient: Reference Structures

One of the features of our experience which made it possible for us to develop an explicit Meta-model for the language of therapy was that each of us as native speakers of our language have consistent intuitions as to what are the full linguistic representations — the Deep Structures — of each sentence or Surface Structure we hear. As therapists, we can come to know exactly what is missing from the client's Surface Structure by comparing it to the Deep Structure from which we know it is derived. Thus, by asking for what is missing, we begin the process of recovering and expanding the client's model — the process of change.

We will call the Deep Structure the reference structure for the sentence, or Surface Structure, which we hear from our clients. It is the reference structure in the sense that the Deep Structure is the source from which the Surface Structure sentence is derived. The Deep Structure is the fullest linguistic representation of the world, but it is not the world itself. The Deep Structure itself is derived from a fuller and richer source. The reference structure for the Deep Structure is the sum total of all of the client's experiences of the world. The processes which specify what happens between the Deep Structure and the Surface Structure are the three universal processes of human modeling, the rules of representation themselves: Generalization, Deletion, and Distortion. These general processes have specific names and forms within the Metamodel which we have created with the concepts and mechanics suggested by the transformational model of language; for example, referential indices, deletion transformations and, semantic well-formedness conditions. These same three general processes of modeling determine the way that Deep Structures are derived from their source — the client's experience of the world. We suggest that the same set of specific concepts and mechanisms will continue to guide us in recovering the reference structure for the

The Meta-model for therapy that we have developed and presented here is, as we have stated repeatedly, a formal model. It is, specifically, formal in two senses of the word:

1. It is a model which is explicit — that is, it describes what the structure of the process of therapy is in a step-by-step

2. It is a model which deals with form, not content. In other words, the Meta-model is neutral with respect to the con-

The first sense in which our Meta-model is formal guarantees that it is available to anyone willing to learn it — that is, since it is an explicit description of a process, it is learnable. The second sense in which the Meta-model is formal guarantees that it will have universal applicability2 — no matter what the subject or content of the particular therapeutic session, the exchange between the therapist and the client will involve Surface Structures; these Surface Structures are the material on which the Meta-model

Notice that, since the Meta-model is independent of content, there is nothing in it which would distinguish the Surface Structures produced by a client who was talking about his last trip to Arizona from the client who was talking about some intensely joyous or painful experience that he recently had with a close friend. This is the point at which the therapist's particular form of psychotherapy will indicate the content of the therapeutic session. For us, for example, when a person comes to us in therapy, we feel that they have come with some pain, some dissatisfaction about their present situation, and we generally begin by asking what they hope to gain by coming to us — that is, what they want.

Their reply, no matter what it is, (even, / don't know) is in the form of a Surface Structure, and we move into the process of therapy by then applying the Meta-model techniques. The initial question that we ask is not a question which we have shown to be demanded by the Meta-model. Rather, it is a question which we have developed out of our experiences in therapy — that is, our experiences in therapy have led us to understand that one of the necessary components of the therapeutic experience is for us to learn what it is that has brought the client to therapy.

The reference structure for the full linguistic representation of Deep Structure is the full range of human experience. As humans, we can be certain that each experience that we have will include certain elements or components. For the purpose of understanding these components of the reference structure for Deep Structure, we can divide them into two categories: the sensations which originate in the world, and the contribution which we make with our nervous systems to these sensations as we receive and process them, organizing them into the reference structure for the linguistic Deep Structures of our language. The exact nature of the sensations which arise in the world are not directly knowable as we use our nervous systems to model the world, even reaching out with our receptor systems, setting and calibrating them (the concept of forward feedback — Pribram, 1967), in accordance with the expectations which we derive from our present model of the world. The model which we create is, of course, subject to certain constraints imposed by the world — if my model is too divergent from the world, it will not serve me as an adequate guide for my behavior in the world. Again, the way that the model each of us develops will differ from the world is in the choices (normally, not conscious) which we make as we employ the three principles of modeling. This makes it possible for each of us to entertain a different model of the world and yet live in the same real world. Just as Deep Structures include certain necessary components, so, too, does the reference structure for Deep Structures. For example, we receive sensations through the five (minimally) senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Thus, one component of the reference structure for which we as therapists may check is whether the Deep Structures include descriptions of sensations arriving through each of these five senses — that is, does the full linguistic representation include descriptions which represent the client's ability to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. If one of these senses is not represented, then we may challenge the representation, requiring the client to re-connect the Deep Structure with its reference structure and to recover the deleted sensations, thus expanding and enriching the client's model.

While we have not yet developed an explicit structure for the range of human experience, we have some suggestions about what some of the necessary components of that reference structure will be. In addition to the check for the five senses, we have found it useful to employ a set of categories developed by Virginia Satir in her dynamic work in family systems and communication postures. Satir organizes the reference structure into three major

1. The context — what is happening in the world (i.e., in the

2. The client's feelings about what is happening in the world

3. The client's perceptions of what others are feeling about what is happening in the world (as represented).

We are aware that, while the client's reports of feelings about what is happening will occur in the form of Surface Structures which are subject to the techniques of the Meta-model, we have not emphasized this as a necessary component of a well-formed Deep Structure. The client's feelings about what is happening in the world are, however, a necessary component of any well-formed reference structure. In other, words, therapists may be sure that the reference structure is incomplete, or, in the terms we have developed in this book, not well formed, if the client's feelings are not represented in the reference structure. This is equivalent to saying that human emotions are a necessary component of human

The point of mentioning this quite obvious fact is not to suggest that you, as a therapist, are not aware that people have feelings, but rather is the hope that you will recognize that, when you ask questions like, "How do you feel about that?" (whatever that might be) you are, in fact, asking your client for a fuller representation (than even Deep Structure) of your client's experience of the world. And what you are doing by asking this particular question is asking for what you know is a necessary component of the client's reference structure. This particular component of the reference structure is common to most therapies and is very useful information in our work as therapists. What is not common to most therapies and can make this question even more potent is that the client's answer will be a Surface Structure, subject to the well-formed-in-therapy conditions. This allows you to know more about your client's model, recovering one of the necessary components of the reference structure, and at the same time challenging and expanding the client's model. When this common question is seen from the point of view of the Meta-model, an additional and very potent question suggests itself. This new question, which is characteristic of Satir's work, is: "How do you feel about your feelings about what is happening?" Consider this question in the light of the Meta-model. This is essentially a request on the part of the therapist for the client to say how he feels about his reference structure — his model of the world — focusing specifically on his feelings about the image that he has of himself in his model. This, then, is an explicit way of directly approaching what is called in many therapies the client's self-esteem — a very potent area of the client's reference structure and one closely connected with the possibility of change for that person. The following sequence between a therapist and a client shows the way that the therapist gets to this aspect of the client's

{1) S: Paul just doesn 't care about cleaning up the

The client's Surface Structure claims that the client has knowledge about the inner state of another without stating how she gained this knowledge — mind-reading — thus violating the semantic well-formed-in-therapy condi-

The therapist chooses to challenge this semantic violation by asking the client to specify the process

The client supplies the information requested. Her Surface Structure, however, contains a deletion associated with the predicate tell — tell

(4) T: He told you specifically?

(5) S: He said, "I don't care about whether the house is dean or

The therapist asks for the missing

The client supplies the material.

(6) T: How do you feel about his telling you he doesn't care about whether the house is dean

(7) S: / feel angry — in fact, damn mad . . . that's what we fight about all

(8) T: How do you feel about feeling

How do I feel about feeling

The therapist, using his knowledge that the client's reference structure must include her feelings about Paul's behavior as a necessary condition for being a well-formed-in-therapy reference structure, asks

The client supplies her feelings about Paul's behavior. Her new Surface Structure includes a universal quantifier (all) which identifies a generalization which the therapist

The therapist ignores the violation of the well-formed-in-therapy condition concerning generalizations, and, instead, chooses to shift levels, asking the client about her feelings about her image of herself in her model of the world (her reference

The client appears to be initially confused by the therapist's question requiring her to shift levels. This is a common reaction to such level shifts in our experience; clients, however, do have the resources to deal with this kind of

(10) T: Yes, how do you feel about feeling angry at Paul?

The therapist repeats the question.

The client about her esteem.

supplies feelings her feelings — her self-

The therapist begins to explore the client's model at this new level by asking her to specify her verb more fully. Changes at this level — the level of self-esteem — are extremely important, since a person's self-image affects the way a person organizes his entire experience or reference structure. Therefore, changes at this level of structure permeate the client's entire model of the world.

These particular categories and techniques of Satir's offer a beginning to determine the set of the minimum necessary components for completeness of the well-formed-in-therapy reference structures. In observing extremely effective therapists, such as Satir, we have identified other types of categories which we offer as part of the set of minimum components which must be present for a reference structure to be well formed with respect to completeness, another way of checking for completeness in the client's

(a) The way the client is representing his past experiences in the present — these are often in the form of rules about his

(b) The way the client is representing his present experience in the present — that is, what the client is aware of now;

(c) The way the client is representing his possible future experiences in the present — that is, his expectations of what he expects the outcome of his behavior will be.

Notice that the four initial components presented by Satir (client's feelings, others' feelings, the context, client's feelings about his feelings) will occur as components of each of these three representations — the past, the present, and the future — as the client is representing them now. We have found these categories very useful in organizing our model and behavior in therapy in attempting to assist clients in developing complete reference structures. As you will have noticed in the explicit techniques of the Meta-model as presented in Chapters 3, 4, and 5, the Meta-model includes techniques for recovering and challenging the categories of the reference structure outlined here. Rules, based on the client's experience as represented in the present, are another name for generalizations based on the client's experience, as are the client's expectations. In each case, the client will present the material the therapist requests when challenging and enriching the client's model in the form of Surface Structures which are subject to the well-formed-in-therapy conditions which the Meta-model specifies. The point of presenting these categories is to offer some clear suggestions about what the necessary components of a complete, well-formed reference structure for the linguistic Deep Structure might be. Additional suggestions as to what the necessary components of a complete reference structure might be have been offered by various philosophers (any of the well-known western philosophers who dealt explicitly with epistomology — for example, in the empiricist tradition, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and in the idealist tradition, Kant, Hegel, Vaihinger, etc.) and seman-ticists, logicians, linguists (for example, Korzybski, Humboldt,

For the remainder of this chapter we will select and discuss a number of techniques from different forms of psychotherapy. It is not our intention to teach these techniques here. Rather, in each case, we will show how the technique, as presently used, implicitly challenges the client's representation of the world, and how each of these techniques may be integrated with the Meta-model. We have selected these particular techniques simply because we are familiar with them and know from our experience that they are powerful therapeutic tools. We would also like to state that we are by no means saying they are any more powerful than other techniques, or that they lend themselves more readily to being integrated with the Meta-model, but rather we wish to provide a cross-section of techniques and chose from the ones we know.

Enactment: The Instant Re-Play of Experience

By enactment we refer to those techniques that involve the client in dramatizing an actual or fantasized experience. Enactment may involve only the client or it may involve other partici-

By taking the word as an absolute, never investigating its personal significance, the word acquires a life of its own. Reifying the word in this way removes it from its practical function as a more or less efficient way of referring to a process which remains alive and has continually changing referents. Enactment is one way of keeping alive the words a person uses to characterize himself or someone else. Keeping his language connected to action permits feelings

(I. and M. Polster, Gestalt Therapy Integration, p.

The solution (to the question of what the set of necessary components of a complete reference structure is) is complex. Fortunately for psychotherapy, this solution is not required for therapy to proceed. One way of avoiding this difficulty and at the same time gaining access to something closer to the client's reference structure is to have the client present the experiences from which the full linguistic representation was derived.3 For example, the client has difficulty expressing anger toward her husband. We know this as she began by presenting a series of Surface Structures which we then subjected to the well-formed-in-therapy conditions, finally arriving at the full linguistic representation. At this point, in order to determine what the reference structure from which this full linguistic representation was derived is, we may ask the client to enact a specific occasion on which she was unable to express her anger at her husband. In addition to re-connecting the client's Deep Structures with a fuller approximation to their reference structures, the techniques of enactment typically accomplish two

1. The client, in re-creating his experience, becomes aware of parts of the reference structure or experience which had

2. Enactment gives the therapist access to two important

(a) A close approximation to the reference structure itself — the client's experience — and, therefore, provides the therapist with a wealth of accurate material to use in

(b) The opportunity to see an example of modeling by the client directly. In other words, through enactment, the therapist has available an approximate reference structure. By comparing it with the client's verbal description of that experience, the therapist has an example of the generalizations, deletions and distortions typical

A number of things occur when the client enacts his experience. First, the client's present experience itself comes to challenge and expand his model of the world, as he experiences it in his enactment possibilities which had been previously deleted, and some of the missing portions of the representation are recovered. Secondly, the portions of the client's model which were vague and unfocused are clarified, as the enactment is a specific experience — equivalent to the supplying of referential indices by the client, in this case experientially rather than linguistically. The enactment is essentially a dramatization of what the client has represented as an event — the enactment itself denominalizes the representation; that is, it transforms the event back into a process, and, in this process, presents a much more fully specified image of the process (equivalent to more fully specifying the verb in Meta-model techniques). These four aspects of a typical enactment taken together result in an experience which lies in part outside the boundaries of the client's initial linguistic representation. Since the enactment technique implicitly challenges the client's model by these four aspects, if the enactment technique is integrated with the Metamodel techniques the result is that the enactment technique itself becomes more powerful and direct by explicitly challenging the

In any therapeutic situation in which the technique of enactment is fully integrated with the Meta-model, the therapist has an extremely rich set of choices. Common to all of these is the suggestion that the therapist have the client describe his ongoing experience during the dramatization. This ongoing description, as well as any other verbal communications by the client to other participants in the enactment, will, of course, be a series of Surface Structures. The therapist subjects these Surface Structures to the well-formed-in-therapy conditions by using Meta-model questioning. This insures that the material which the enactment technique makes available implicitly is recovered in a completely explicit manner. The enactment technique is designed to make available a close approximation to the reference structure from which the impoverished portion of the client's linguistic representation was derived. The richer approximation to reference structure provided by enactment includes both verbal and analogical forms of communication. In addition to subjecting the client's reports of the ongoing experience, and his communications to other participants, to the well-formed-in-therapy conditions, the therapist has available this fuller representation — the enactment experience itself which the therapist may use as an approximate reference structure to compare directly with the client's verbal

The therapist may wish to use some of the necessary components of a complete reference structure suggested previously. The therapist may, for example, insure by questioning that the client is representing his feelings about the enactment experience explicitly by asking directly for those feelings. Or, for example, the therapist may pay particularly close attention to whether the client explicitly represents sensations gained through each of the five senses — that is, the therapist may check to see whether the client looks at and sees clearly the actions of the other participants in the dramatization, or the therapist may check to see whether the client listens and hears clearly the things said by himself and by the other participants in the dramatization.

Guided Fantasy — A Journey into the Unknown

By guided fantasy we refer to the process in which clients use their imagination to create a new experience for themselves.

Fantasy is an expansive force in a person's life — it reaches and stretches beyond the immediate people environment or event which may otherwise contain him.. .. Sometimes these extensions (fantasy) can gather such great force and poignancy that they achieve a presence which is more compelling than some real-life situations. .. . When these fantasies can emerge in the therapy experience, the renewal of energy may be vast, sometimes bordering on the unassimilable and often marking a new course in the indi-

(Polster & Polster, Gestalt Therapy Integrated,

The purpose of guided fantasy is to create an experience for the client which, at least in part if not in its entirety, has not been previously represented in his model. Thus, guided fantasies are most appropriately used when the client's representation is too impoverished to offer an adequate number of choices for coping in this area. Most typically, these are cases where the client is either in a situation or feels that he will be in a situation in which he hasn't sufficient representation in his model to respond in a way that he thinks is adequate. Often, the client experiences a great deal of uncertainty and fear about the resolution of these situations. For example, a client feels blocked from expressing his feelings of softness and tenderness toward his son. He has never expressed these feelings and is very apprehensive about what will happen if he does, although he has no clear idea of what that happening might be. Here, we may choose to use a guided fantasy technique — having the client create by fantasy the experience which he both wants and fears. This experience will serve as a reference structure for the client, assisting him in overcoming his fear and ultimately giving him more choice in this area of his life. Guided fantasy, then, serves as a tool for the therapist in accom-

1. It provides the client with an experience which is the basis for a representation in his model where previously there had been either no representation or inadequate representation. This provides him with a guide for future behavior

2. It provides the therapist with an experience which the therapist can use to challenge the client's presently impov-

In addition to these gains for both the therapist and the client, a guided fantasy is an opportunity for the therapist to observe the client creating not only a new experience but also a representation of that experience. Here, the therapist sees in the creation of this new fantasy experience the universal modeling processes of Generalization, Deletion and Distortion as they are typically employed by the client. The employment of the guided fantasy experience is parallel to the Meta-model technique of recovery of large-scale deletions under the category of modal operators. This technique differs from the process of enactment in that enactment recovers and brings into the present experience of the client something quite close to a reference structure from the client's past, while guided fantasy creates a reference structure for the client in the

Since guided fantasy is the creation of a reference structure, tne therapist may wish to use the necessary components of a complete reference structure suggested previously in guiding the client's fantasy. Specifically, for example, the therapist may, by questioning, direct the client to report on his feelings at different points in the fantasy, or direct the client's attention to one or more of the five senses to insure a complete reference structure

We have found, in our experience, that guided fantasies often take the form of a metaphor rather than a direct representation of the "problem" that the client first identifies. For example, a client comes to a therapy session complaining that she is unable to get angry at someone with whom she works. Using the Meta-model techniques, we discover that the client also feels unable to express anger at her father and husband, and, in fact, she is unable to identify anyone at whom she feels she could express anger. There are a number of techniques available in the Meta-model to challenge this generalization; however, guided fantasy is particularly appropriate for situations in which the client has little or no representations in his model for such experiences. If, through the technique of guided fantasy, the client succeeds in expressing anger at someone in his fantasy (it doesn't matter whom), then he will have created a new reference structure which contradicts the generalization in his model. Often, once the client has successfully generated reference structures which contradict the generalization in his model, the generalization disappears, and the problems that were a result of the generalization also disappear or are reduced.

For example, once a young woman came into a seminar in which Meta-model techniques were being taught. Before the seminar began, she burst out into a frantic episode in which she claimed she was terrified that she was going crazy. Using Metamodel techniques, the teacher was able to determine that she felt she was losing control and did not know what was happening to her; her life was ¡n turmoil, her future a frightening and dismal unknown. The teacher of the seminar asked her to close her eyes and tell him what she saw. After some initial difficulty, she proceeded to describe herself as standing on the edge of a large crevasse which was steep and foreboding. The teacher told her to slowly proceed into the crevasse and explore it, asking her to continually report on what she experienced, giving details of sight, hearing, feeling, smelling, and constantly reassuring her she could proceed through each obstacle. She finally proceeded down and back up, remarking, when she arrived at the top again, that it was still a gloomy day but that somehow she felt better. When she opened her eyes, her fear was gone and she felt that she could survive all that faced her. This experience offered a new reference structure in which this young woman was able to face an unknown experience; this new reference structure also expanded her model in such a way that it allowed her to believe that somehow she would survive whatever was happening to her in her life.

By the solution or resolution of a "problem" by metaphor in guided fantasy, we refer to a situation in which the client uses guided fantasy to create a new reference structure or experience in which he achieves that which was formerly not possible. Once the new situation — the one created in the fantasy — is successfully resolved, the "problem" which the client originally had either disappears or at least becomes less formidable, and, typically, the client feels able to cope with it. The created "problem" and the original "problem" must share a similarity of structure — they must both be "problems" relating to the same impoverishing generalization in the client's model of the world.4

Once a therapist has succeeded in developing a guided fantasy with his client, this fantasy, itself, is an experience available for

Therapeutic Double Binds

By therapeutic double binds we mean situations, imposed upon the client by the therapist, in which any response by the client will be an experience, or reference structure, which lies outside the client's model of the world. Thus, therapeutic double binds implicitly challenge the client's model by forcing him into an experience which contradicts the impoverishing limitations of his model. This experience then comes to serve as a reference structure which expands the client's model of the world. In the Meta-model, when the therapist uncovers an impoverishing generalization in the client's model, particularly one which involves a Cause-Effect, semantically ill-formed violation and/or a modal oper ator, the therapist may challenge this generalization by asking the client whether this generalization is necessarily or always true (see, Techniques for Challenging Generalizations, Chapter 4), to identify and dramatize an experience which contradicts this generalization (enactment), or, in a case in which the client does not have such an experience available, the therapist may ask the client to create an experience which contradicts his generalization (through the technique of guided fantasy). If these three techniques fail to produce the contradictory experience, or if the therapist is so inclined, he may choose to create a double-bind situation in which the client's response is an experience which contradicts the client's

During one therapeutic session, in the course of using Metamodel techniques with a group, the therapist assisted the client in arriving at the generalization which was true in her model; namely, "I can't say NO to anyone because I can't hurt anyone's feelings." In this particular case, the therapist chose to use the Meta-model technique of asking what, specifically, would happen if the client were to say NO to someone. Her reply was that they would be badly hurt, that they might even die. Noticing the lack of a referential index of the noun argument anyone, the therapist decided to ask who, specifically, might be hurt and die. The client, now greatly agitated, recounted a traumatic experience from her childhood when she had said NO to her father's request to stay at home with him. Upon returning home later that same evening, the client discovered her father had died, and she had taken the responsibility for his death, attributing it to her having said NO to

The therapist now moved into an enactment technique, asking the client to recreate the situation described with her father. Even after the enactment technique showed that the original experience from which the client had made the generalization was one in which she had had no choice about whether she would stay with her father or not, she adamantly refused to give up her generalization. Here, although the enactment technique proved useful in recovering the traumatic experience, providing material which challenged certain other generalizations in the client's model, it did not, in itself, contradict the client's generalization about the consequences of saying NO to someone. In this case, note that the recovery and enactment of the original experience from which the client made a generalization did not contradict the generalization; it simply identified the source of the generalization. Thus, after the enactment, the client's model was still impoverished in this area — she still could not imagine saying NO to someone without there being unacceptable consequences. The therapist in this case next chose to use a therapeutic double-bind technique. What the therapist did was to tell the client to go around the room to each of the people in the group and say NO about something to each. The client reacted strongly, refusing to perform the task, making

NO! It's impossible for me to say NO to people! You can't expect me to do it just because you ask me to. The client continued in this way for several minutes, refusing to carry out the task set for her by the therapist, until the therapist pointed out that she had, in fact, been saying NO to the therapist during this time! The therapist then pointed out that he had not been hurt and certainly had not died, contrary to her generalization. This experience was so powerful for the client that she was immediately able to move around the room and say NO to the

Consider the position in which the therapist placed the client by demanding that she say NO to the members of the group:

2. The therapist structured a therapeutic double bind with

3. Notice the choices available to the client; she may

4. Whichever choice the client makes, she generates an experience which contradicts her original generalization. This experience serves the client as a reference structure to guide her in representing her world in richer terms.

The therapist makes the contradictory nature of the new experience explicit by pointing out (using the Meta-model technique) that the Cause-Effect relationship which the client's generalization claimed was necessarily true failed to be true in this experience.

One of the ways in which we have found therapeutic double binds particularly useful is in the area referred to by many therapies as homework. By homework we mean contracts which we make with the clients in which they agree to perform certain actions between therapeutic sessions. In the area of therapeutic double binds in homework, a client in a therapy session uncovered

/ can't try anything new because / might fail. When the therapist, using Meta-model techniques, asked what would happen if she did try something new and failed, she replied that she wasn't sure, but that it would be very bad. She expressed a great deal of fear of the consequences of failing at something new and again stated that it was impossible, therefore, for her to try something new. At this point, the therapist decided to impose a therapeutic double bind and use the time between sessions for carrying out this bind. He made a contract with her that she would, each day between this session and the next, try something new and fail at it. Again, notice the structure of the situation created by this demand by the therapist of the client:

1. The client has the generalization in her model

/ can't fail at anything new;

2. The therapist structures a double bind with the contract

Each day, between this session and the next, you will

3. Notice the choices available to the client:

(a) She can try something new each day between this session and the next and fail at it, thus fulfilling the contract,

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