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Scottish Solution Focused Network​

Solutions in Practice: Scottish Solution Focused Network

I heard about this film, first of all from Mark McKergrow, and then from Guy Shennan in early 2012 (I think).  It wasn't available in the UK, but we managed to get a copy through the German branch of Amazon (the liberal use of on-line translation services was required) and were able to watch it at the October gathering at the Playfield Institute.

Nora Bateson is the younger daughter of Gregory Bateson, cultural anthropologist, social scientist and developer, along with Don Jackson, of the Double Bind theory in schizophrenic communication.  In this film she takes archive footage of her father and links it with her own narration and interview clips of commentators such as Govenor of California, Jerry Brown; physicist, Fritjof Capra; and her half-sister, Mary Catherine Bateson.  The film takes as its point of departure Bateson's statement that, "The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think."

Through her interpretation of her father's thinking and work she is able to offer some insight into what is (at times) quite impenetrable writing.  What comes out of the film is a sense of the importance of context in making sense of a situation, and the often destructive nature of linear thinking.  Bateson challenges us to see the world in a bigger picture; or, if not in a bigger picture, at least in a different picture.

Some of the essential ideas of solution focused practice are evident in the film.  These include the importance of perspective and it's impact on reframing situations, the idea that problems are contextual, and that the future informs the present, more than the past.  Given Bateson's role in bringing together the founders of the Mental Research Institute at Palo Alto, and the influence of them (especially John Weakland and Paul Watzlawick) on Insoo Kim Berg and Steve De Shazer, this fim offers an insight into some of the, often unrecognised, influences behind solution focused thinking.


Steve Smith.

Gregory Bateson

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