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Lezing Gianni Francesetti: The field perspective in clinical practice

The field perspective in clinical practice: towards a theory of therapeutic phronesis

The field concept has been used in psychotherapy in a variety of ways by different authors, but also in a variety of ways by the same authors at different times.  Without clarifying the meaning of the term, the risk is to create a Babylonian confusion in which it is often unclear what we are talking about.  The aim of this seminar is not to propose a universal definition of the concept, but to offer, taking into consideration the complexity of the matter, a theoretical framework that is sufficiently clear and to illustrate its consequences for clinical practice.  The impact of a field perspective in psychopathology, diagnosis and psychotherapy can be revolutionary in its consequences on how the therapist approaches the session and conducts therapy. 

The field perspective that I propose does not offer a technique that can be reproduced as behaviour, but proposes an approach to therapy to help steer the therapeutic act as it emerges in the specific situation. In this sense, it is not tekhne (i.e., the repetition of specific behaviours to achieve a purpose), but rather phronesis : the capacity to steer a path given the potentiality and limitations of the present situation.  The phronesis of this field perspective supports an action which, although emerging anew in any given situation, unfolds along a line of approach that can be identified as specific and as such can be considered for the purposes of research, too. 

So the field perspective is not a theory of a technique, but a theory of phronesis. The view I present builds on the field concept in psychotherapy and seeks to develop the concept of the organism/environment field introduced by Perls, Hefferline & Goodman.

This perspective helps us to understand therapy work in a radically relational light.