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Mediation Milanese - An Application of Systemic Family Therapy to Family Mediation

NCJ Number
Mediation Quarterly Issue: 14-15 Dated: (Winter 1986-Spring 1987) Pages: 101-118
H Gadlin; P A Ouellette
Date Published
18 pages
A powerful approach to family therapy originated in Milan, Italy, and appears also to be useful in mediating parent-child disputes.
Mediation and therapy have different primary goals, but the secondary goals of one process are often similar to the primary goals of the other. Milan-style family therapy is also referred to as systemic family therapy and is based on the research and theories of Gregory Bateson. The goal is to help people achieve livable agreements suited to their needs, interests, priorities, and concerns. Central concepts are the neutrality of the therapist, the importance of framing issues so as to facilitate discussion and generate solutions, the redefinition of problem symptoms as neutral or positive, the use of circular questioning, and the use of prescriptions and rituals. The authors' mediation uses the Milan format. An active consulting team containing therapists and mediators stays behind a one-way mirror. The team members use a telephone to contact the mediators with suggestions or questions. The team also meets before and after each session and segment. Mediation is often videotaped. The mediation using the Milan format is still being developed. It appears to be especially appropriate to disputes in troubled families that are intact. Combining the Milan approach with the spirit and goals of mediation would produce a form of therapeutic mediation in divorce. Without a therapeutic component, mediated agreements often may not last. 21 references.