Knowing Through Changing

The evolution of brief strategic therapy

By: Claudette Portelli , Giorgio Nardone


Products specifications
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Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 240
ISBN : 9781845900151
Format: Hardback
Published: November 2005

This book is the result of fifteen years of clinical-research work carried out at the Brief Strategic Centre of Arezzo, Italy, for the development of a continuously improving, efficient and effective treatment of various human problems.

The authors put forward a simple yet comprehensive description of the epistemology and genealogy of Brief Strategic Therapy, while emphasizing the most evolved therapeutic interventions for each of the various disorders studied, acquired from the experimental-empirical research carried out in everyday clinical practice.

All the phases of the advanced model of Brief Strategic Therapy are covered, revealing the corresponding objectives, strategies and language used in the treatment of various psychological problems. Importance is given to the first treatment session and the use of the Strategic Dialogue.

For a better understanding of the model and its application, the book contains specific case examples of the treatment of phobic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders, depression, child problems, presumed psychosis and others. In this section, the authors put forward the underlying logic of each specific disorder and its variants, the attempted solutions that maintain and worsen the problem and a step-by-step description of effective therapy.

The final part of the book discusses a very controversial issue: the bridging of research and practice. The authors put forward a critical report of the different research approaches used in the study of psychotherapy, followed by a detailed account of the action intervention-research used at the various centres and institutes around the globe that apply the Advanced Brief Strategic Model, together with a description of the future prospects for Brief Strategic Therapy.

Picture for author Claudette Portelli

Claudette Portelli

Claudette Portelli is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, therapist, researcher and trainer at the Centro di Terapia Strategica in Arezzo, Italy.

Picture for author Giorgio Nardone

Giorgio Nardone

Psychologist and psychotherapist, Giorgio Nardone is Director of Centro di Terapia Strategica in Arezzo, Italy and Director of the School of Specialization in Brief Strategic Psychotherapy. He runs numerous conferences, seminars and workshops for professionals.


  1. I am not sure how this book differs from Brief Strategic Therapy: Philosophy, Techniques and research by Nardone and Watzlawick (published in 2005 and reviewed March 2006).

    In brief, this one looks at theory its genealogy, the model, and strategies used in the practice of the model. Illustrative clinical examples are used throughout, as is reference to the way in which research is integrated into practice. Both books would seem to cover something of the same territory.

    However, I approached this book with some scepticism and weariness: less about the subject matter per se - which was more about having yet another take on brief work and the truism contained in the title.

    But, at the end of it, I feel both touched by its enthusiasm and dubious about the apparent lack of messiness amongst the clinical examples has much to offer in the way of ideas and practice about brief work. Given that this is an increasing reality, it will be useful
    for both trainees and practitioners .

    The book is written in an accessible way - although the proof-reading could be better in parts. It contains much common sense and makes a good - and brave - case for de-pathologising labels.

    In effect, while there is an overarching model that provides guidelines, how these are applied depends on the specific needs of the individual client.

    While the therapy is `tailor-made' for each client, over the past twenty years the team has developed various strategies for working with anxiety and phobia, depression, eating disorders and presumed psychosis, amongst others.

    Many of the concepts are familiar. Here, they are integrated into solving problems on the basis that the most effective changes we make are those we resolve for ourselves. The therapist is mindful of the `butterfly effect'; small incremental changes leading to far greater ones.

    To this end, the model focuses on the person in context but offers a re-framing; it uses techniques from Gestalt ” paradox and repetition; from homeopathy ” using small doses of the condition itself; assertiveness training - worry/guilt diaries; visualisation: double binds; self-fulfilling prophecies.

    Its tone is immensely important to value and honour.
  2. The authors of this fascinating and informative book combine explanation of the evolution and theory of Strategic Therapy with examples of its use in the treatment of many recognised disorders. The scripts given illustrate the technique in a way which be useful to therapists of all levels of experience. There is also a stimulating discussion of the benefits of Strategic Therapy when compared to more traditional approaches used hitherto in the study of psychotherapy. All in all, this book will be of value to anyone interested in the theory and/or practice of psychology-based therapy.
  3. This book is a brave and noble stand against the drug lords of modern psychiatry. Over the years Nardone and his colleagues have researched practical and effective ways of helping others without the toxic effects of medication and long term economic entanglement. His work helps re-liberate the helping professions, freeing them to be active agents of beneficial change.
  4. Giorgio Nardone and his collaborators are leading-edge contributors to psychotherapy. In Knowing Through Changing they offer the latest advances in their strategic model, and provide practical examples and easy-to-follow transcripts. This is a therapy of heart and hope that demonstrates that even the most seemingly intractable problems can be ameliorated.
  5. Logical, clear and brilliant! This book is a must read for every therapist and student of therapy.

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