Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Positive Connotation in Milan Systemic Therapy

  • Maru Torres-GregoryEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_300


Positive connotation is a counterparadoxical intervention conceived by Mara Selvini Palazzoli, Luigi Boscolo, Giuliana Prata, and Gianfranco Cecchin, members of the Milan Center for the Study of the Family and creators of Milan Systemic Family Therapy. It is based on the fundamental belief that symptoms – even psychotic ones – arise out of a family system’s attempts at maintaining homeostasis and cohesion instead of from individual psychopathology. In its purest form, a positive connotation is a therapist’s expression of neutrality in regard to the family system and the presenting problem; it is conceived out of a process of hypothesizing; and it is informed by data gathered through circularity of inquiry. Successful positive connotation results in “a restructuring of the therapist’s consciousness” regarding presenting problems and the family system (Boscolo et al. 1987, p. 7).

In their seminal work, Paradox and Counterparadox (Selvini Palazzoli et al. 1978), the authors...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Eli Karam
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA