Rewriting Family Scripts: Improvisation and Systems Change

Overview

Families can develop self-destructive routines so predictable that members seem to be following a script - each coming in on cue as the plot unfolds. Such scripts can be altered, however, when families in therapy learn how to improvise new patterns of relating. Rewriting Family Scripts presents an innovative approach to doing just that - incorporating into family therapy elements of script theory and recent findings in attachment research, including those related to narrative. Developing a new systemic attachment...
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Overview

Families can develop self-destructive routines so predictable that members seem to be following a script - each coming in on cue as the plot unfolds. Such scripts can be altered, however, when families in therapy learn how to improvise new patterns of relating. Rewriting Family Scripts presents an innovative approach to doing just that - incorporating into family therapy elements of script theory and recent findings in attachment research, including those related to narrative. Developing a new systemic attachment concept, "the secure family base," from which individual members can feel safe enough to explore and improvise new scripts, author John Byng-Hall shows how families can change insecure relationship patterns both during and after therapy. Clearly written, jargon-free, and illustrated with detailed clinical case material, this book presents a comprehensive conceptual framework that illuminates the central issues of family therapy practice. Filled with insight into theoretical foundations as well as practical suggestions for clinical practice, Rewriting Family Scripts is a valuable resource for family therapists of all orientations, attachment theorists, family theorists, and other readers interested in understanding and improving family dynamics.

Resolving care-control conflicts/positive framing of parenting scripts/scripts in formation of a new family/etc.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Finally, the longstanding pop psychology' quality of family script theory is given a secure base. Byng-Hall painstakingly and empathically presents a theory of family relationships, and a method of clinical practice, that is thoroughly and coherently grounded in attachment theory, cognitive psychology and systems therapy. In this exquisitely integrative spirit, Byng-Hall restores humanity to systems theory, and puts the mind back in the machine." --Alan S. Gurman, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School

"I found Rewriting Family Scripts to be a very human book, absorbing, delightful and clear. It should engender a new era in the study of attachment in the family and should serve as recommended reading for all workers in the field." --Mary Main, Ph.D., Leiden, The Netherlands

"What a pleasure it is to see children and the multi-generational family return center stage to family therapy. Byng-Hall's use of the metaphor of family scripts' is ideal: it captures the family's living complexity, families can easily understand the concept, and it fits easily with current interest in the narrative. The author's early work on myths and attachment at the Tavistock Clinic with the legendary John Bowlby has continued to be rewarding. This volume provides more that adequate coverage of the views of others, but throughout Byng-Hall stands four square on his own clinical and theoretical feet. Rewriting Family Scripts belongs on every family therapist's library short list." --Donald A. Bloch, M.D., Editor, Family Systems Medicine

"This long-awaited book is the culmination of 25 years of practice by one of Great Britain's foremost family therapy practitioners and trainers....It is an eminently practical and accessible book and provides us with a powerful tool with which to explore the complex links among individual, interaction, and system." --Bebe Speed, Editor, Journal of Family Therapy

"This text has been long-awaited, but like the very best wines, the maturity and richness that John Byng-Hall's ideas and practice has provided has made the wait worthwhile....John Byng-Hall reflects on the absence of attachment notions within the developing family therapy field, and illustrates that now that attachment theory has developed a research base to go beyond infancy through childhood and through adult functioning, it can now be brought back into a central place for family therapists, and this book is the appropriate vehicle....John Byng-Hall has brought in so many of his experiences into this book, both as a therapist and supervisor, as researcher, his work with developing the issues of parenting and parental control in adolescent units, his work in consulting to Social Service Departments, and in each he consistently links to the unifying notion of scripts. He elaborates the subsets of legends, and stories, myths, and explores the way that therapy and the therapist provides a secure base, he promotes change and improvisation, gives a comprehensive and up to date version of attachment theory and how such notions become expressed in the complexity of family life through his notions, through scripts, and the development of parenting scripts. All this is expressed in language which is clear, immediately understandable...Like most of the finest wines this book will stand out as a superlative vintage which will repay coming back to year after year for its wisdom, compassion and demonstration of extraordinary skill and care." --Arnon Bentovim, MB, BS, FRCPsych, DPM, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, London

"Byng-Hall advances an effective means of observing and clarifying family patterns and suggests techniques for promoting change in various families. He presents excellent case examples and theoretical discussions pertinent to family dynamics. In focusing on both positive and negative family interactions, Byng-Hall gives professionals and family members a potent tool for modifying their styles of interaction. In sharing some of his own life stories, Byng-Hall lends credibility to the techniques he advances. Although this book is addressed primarily to professionals who provide family therapy, it offers insights to anyone interested in how families function. The author is sensitive to both the difficulties that families encounter and their strengths. While offering practical advice for effective practice, the book also presents a theoretical context in which to understand the underlying dynamics that constitute all families. The book serves as a valuable resource." --Lorraine Siegel, Dept. of Social Services, White Plains, NY for Families in Society

"This is a delightful book, written by a master clinician. The book does two things. First and most importantly it provides the reader with an opportunity to observe this great clinician thinking about complex intergenerational problems with clarity and sensitivity which is nothing short of magical. Secondly, it provides a conceptual framework for thinking about family problems from an attachment point of view. The integration of these two fields has been long overdue, had never been adequately undertaken and this book represents a superb demonstration of what becomes possible when systemic and attachment ideas are brought together. The author achieves a level of integration between clinical work and theory which is rare in the clinical domain and exceptional in this particular field. All clinicians working with families should read this book and all those interested in attachment should study it carefully because this is where the field is most likely to grow over the next decade." --Professor Peter Fonagy, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London

Booknews
Outlines--largely without jargon--an approach for therapists to help families alter self-destructive routines. Incorporates elements of family therapy, script theory, and recent findings in attachment research into a systemic attachment concept, "The secure family base," from which individuals can feel safe enough to explore and improvise new scripts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
Journal of Family Psychotherapy

"I strongly recommend this book for advanced clinicians in the field of family therapy. It is practical and readable yet provides a comprehensive theoretical perspective that is well grounded in the literature and thoroughly explained."--Journal of Family Psychotherapy
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

"Extraordinary....This book should take its place next to Minuchin's Families and Family Therapy on the shelves of all psychiatrists and others who work with children, adolescents, and their families. It is a classic. "--Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Journal of Family Therapy

"This long-awaited book is the culmination of 25 years of practice by one of Great Britain's foremost family therapy practitioners and trainers....It is an eminently practical and accessible book and provides us with a powerful tool with which to explore the complex links among individual, interaction, and system."--Journal of Family Therapy
Youth Today

"Rewriting Family Scripts, extremely human and at times very funny, comes highly recommended."--Youth Today
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898628760
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/22/1995
  • Series: The Guilford Family Therapy Series Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author


John Byng-Hall is a Consultant Child and Family Psychiatrist at the Tavistock Clinic. He has published widely on topics such as family myths, legends, and scripts; attachments within the family; adolescence; and the impact of chronic illness within the family. He has also presented his ideas at international conferences. He was trained at Cambridge University, University College Hospital London, the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals, and at the Tavistock Clinic. He is a past Chair of the Institute of Family Therapy, London.
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Table of Contents


I. From Scripts to Improvisations
1. Secure Enough to Improvise
2. The Nature of Scripts
3. Identification across the Generations
4. Rewriting Family Scripts
5. A Case Example
II. Creating a Secure Family Base
6. Security in the Family
7. Therapy and Supervision as Secure Bases
8. Myths and Legends about Security
9. Resolving Care-Control Conflicts
10. Resolving Distance Conflicts
11. Positive Framing of Parenting Scripts
III. Reediting Scripts in Changing Circumstances
12. Scripts in Formation of a New Family
13. Grieving Scripts
14. Disrupted Scripts: Family Breakup and Disability
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