1st Edition

Rewriting Family Scripts
Improvisation and Systems Change

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ISBN 9781572300668
Published July 17, 1996 by Guilford Press
288 Pages

USD $34.00

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Book Description

Families can develop self-destructive routines so predictable that members seem to be following a script; each one coming in on cue as the plot unfolds. Such scripts can be altered, however, when families in therapy learn how to improvise new patterns of relating. Rewriting Family Scripts presents an innovative approach to doing just that; incorporating into family therapy elements of script theory and recent findings in attachment research, including those related to narrative.
Developing a new systematic attachment concept, "the secure family base", from which individual members can feel safe enough to explore and improvise new scripts, author John Byng-Hall shows how families can change insecure relationship patterns both during and after therapy.
Clearly written, jargon-free, and illustrated with detailed clinical case material, this book presents a comprehensive conceptual framework that illuminates the central issues of family therapy practice. This book is aimed at family and marital therapists and other therapists working with individuals, families or groups, who are interested in understanding and improving family dynamics. It also serves as a text in courses on family and marital therapy and courses on attachment theory.

Table of Contents

I. From Scripts to Improvisations
1. Secure Enough to Improvise
2. The Nature of Scripts
3. Identification across the Generations
4. Rewriting Family Scripts
5. A Case Example
II. Creating a Secure Family Base
6. Security in the Family
7. Therapy and Supervision as Secure Bases
8. Myths and Legends about Security
9. Resolving Care-Control Conflicts
10. Resolving Distance Conflicts
11. Positive Framing of Parenting Scripts
III. Reediting Scripts in Changing Circumstances
12. Scripts in Formation of a New Family
13. Grieving Scripts
14. Disrupted Scripts: Family Breakup and Disability

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John Byng-Hall is a Consultant Child and Family Psychiatrist at the Tavistock Clinic. He has published widely on topics such as family myths, legends, and scripts; attachments within the family; adolescence; and the impact of chronic illness within the family. He has also presented his ideas at international conferences. He was trained at Cambridge University, University College Hospital London, the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals, and at the Tavistock Clinic. He is a past Chair of the Institute of Family Therapy, London.


"I found Rewriting Family Scripts to be a very human book, absorbing, delightful and clear. It should engender a new era in the study of attachment in the family and should serve as recommended reading for all workers in the field. "Mary Main, Ph.D., Leiden, The Netherlands

"This long?awaited book is the culmination of 25 years of practice by one of Great Britain's foremost family therapy practitioners and trainers ... It is an eminently practical and accessible book and provides us with a powerful tool with which to explore the complex links among individual, interaction, and system." Bebe Speed, Editor, Journal of Family Therapy

"Rewriting Family Scripts has been long awaited, but like the very best wines, the maturity and richness that John Byng?Hall's ideas and practice have provided has made the wait worth?while." Arnon Bentovim