Dr Dickon Millett
Dr Dickon Millett
What was the goal of the research?
There are two main types of research into family therapy. “Outcome” research investigates whether therapy helps families to change their lives. This research has generally shown that family therapy can be effective in helping families deal with a range of problems. “Process” research investigates how engaging in therapy can help. Process research looks at what is useful in therapy sessions. The research I conducted was a piece of process research. It looked at the influence of a “reflecting team” on a therapy session.
What is a “reflecting team”?
Family therapists often work together as a team with families. One therapist takes the lead talking with the family whilst the others listen to what is said. The group of therapists doing the listening is called a “reflecting team”. Towards the end of the session the therapist and family agree to stop their conversation and listen to the reflecting team’s thoughts. The reflecting team then have a conversation together about what they have heard, ideas they have had and how they have been moved in the session. After this the lead therapist talks to the family again, and investigates what seemed important or useful in what the reflecting team said.
What did the research find?
The research looked at the conversations that took place in a single session of family therapy in great detail. It illustrated several ways that the family found the reflecting team useful. The reflecting team picked up on how the family understood their situation. They offered tentative thoughts and questions. Celebrating the family’s good news was also important. One team member talked about some of their own relevant life experiences. This helped the family explore their key issue more and offered new ways of understanding it.