EUROPEAN FAMILY THERAPY ASSOCIATION
CONNECTING FAMILY THERAPISTS AND TRAINERS
The Milan Team (when they were together till 1980)
The group was the first among family therapists to talk about marriages among family members
The group was the first among family therapists to talk about marriages among family members, sacrifice of the identified patient, counter-paradoxes to be performed in front of the whole family at the dinner table and to open the black box to explore what individuals thought of one another through gossiping. They stayed together from the end of the ‘60es to the beginning of the ’80, when they separated into two groups: Mara and Giuliana attending mostly to research, Luigi and Gianfranco to training.
Umberta Telfener: In 1981 I went behind the one way mirror of the Milan Group. They were still together in via Leopardi in Milano on the verge of separating. I was with Lynn Hoffman and we stayed three intense days seeing them work. They seemed very intimate as a consequence of the time they had spent together on a common project: they seemed otherwise formally distant by character. They still had the session divided in five different moments and just two entered the sessions. I still remember the crystalline laugh of Selvini who commented in a sharp manner, finding terms of endearment ; the witty cynical propositions of Cecchin; the warm embrace of the whole system – us included – by Boscolo; the pragmatic and punctual suggested moves by Prata, she acted as the shepherd dog that reunites and keeps the memory together. They seemed to have each a positioning in their group and were respecting their roles very obediently, with no need of meta-communication among them. The rituality they showed was precise and reassuring. Selvini was usually the most talkative. How did they arrive at the final intervention? They talked together, explored hypotheses, made comments, till one of the proposals seemed right – it fitted the atmosphere – and was chosen as the final intervention. If they could not find an agreement the responsible of the case, usually the psychotherapist, had the last word. As in a brainstorming at last an idea was popping up and was the imbrication of all that had been said before, sort of at a different level of understanding.
Mauro Mariotti: The story begins way back in 1976. I attended a seminar held by Mara Palazzoli Selvini at the University of Bologna. We are a small group. Together with me Massimo Matteini, Laura Fruggeri and a few others. At the end of the seminar, Mara stops to talk to us. Her purse under her arm, she speaks fascinatingly about a clinical case. I remain spellbound listening to her for a few moments that, measured with the objectivity of the clock, turn out to be over an hour! She ends by saying that yes, if we want to learn, there are her two young colleagues who will start a family therapy training in Milan, via Leopardi, a few months later. The young colleagues are Boscolo and Cecchin. No, she will not teach, she wants to do research, but she will collaborate and we will be able to see their work taking place in the same Center (at that time it was like that).
That is how my adventure at the Centro Milanese di Terapia della Famiglia (CMTF) began in October 1976. First course held by Boscolo and Cecchin. In the classroom with me, Stefano Cirillo, Valeria Ugazio, Laura Fruggeri, Anna Maria Sorrentino, Fabio Bassoli and a few others.
I left the school in Milan in 1984 to found ISCRA, in Modena together with Fabio Bassoli, always under the supervision of Boscolo and Cecchin.