Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Circular Questioning in Milan Systemic Therapy

  • Kelly KennedyEmail author
  • Amanda Szarzynski
  • Irene Bautista
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_1144


Circular interviewing; Nonlinear questions; Systemic reframing


Initially developed specifically for Milan Systemic Therapy, circular questioning appears in several systemic therapies to identify patterns and changes in behavior. An overall understanding of the problem emerges through these types of nonlinear questions, which allow the family to reframe their issues by shifting the blame and making beliefs explicit. Circular questioning enables therapy to progress by eliciting new information through process questioning and creating a stronger therapeutic alliance when compared to strategic or lineal questioning. Neutral questioning of the relational conceptualization of issues from each member of the system allows a comprehensive view of circular behavioral maintenance. Different types of circular questions gather information about cyclical patterns, shift or remove blame, find changes in patterns, and assess clients by posing hypothetical scenarios. Circular...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly Kennedy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda Szarzynski
    • 1
  • Irene Bautista
    • 1
  1. 1.Converse CollegeSpartanburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Douglas C. Breunlin
    • 1
  1. 1.The Family InstituteNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA