Since its foundation in 1988, the Postgraduate School of Brief Strategic Therapy (recognised by the Ministry of education with D.M. 11/20/2000), has been based on the learning by doing methodology.
The path, based on practical training, favours the direct experience of students in treating clinical cases and learning by training on therapeutic strategies for change and communication. All this happens in a concrete context of psychotherapy with real patients, rather than artificial contexts of narration or simulation of therapies.
This does not mean underestimating the importance of the theory lying behind brief strategic therapy. This theory arises from rigorous formulations which are among the most complex when compared to other schools of thought in psychotherapy. In fact, it is based on an advanced epistemology and on the application of non-ordinary logic, which allow the formulation of rigorous models but at the same time it preserves the flexibility and inventiveness of interventions.
THE FIRST TWO YEARS
On the one hand, the teaching is carried out through lectures concerning the theoretical model, treatment protocols, techniques and developments of the model of intervention. On the other hand, the teaching is based on the presentation and explanation of videos of clinical cases that were treated at the Centre. The structure of these cases is highlighted along with the applied strategies and stratagems, the therapeutic communication and the specific type of relationship developed with patients.
The aim is to facilitate a twofold learning process: theoretical and practical/experiential learning. A strategic therapist is not the one who is competent in the model theory but the one who can operate properly based on the learned model.
THE FURTHER TWO YEARS
After the first two years, in which students are trained by adopting this type of teaching, the fundamental work of the further two years is based on the clinical experience with patients provided by the school (this is the only school that ensures clinical experience on real patients that come directly to the Institute, due to the fame of its Director).
Every student has the possibility to treat patients directly in co-therapy with the “master” Giorgio Nardone. This allows them to gradually learn, under constant supervision, therapeutic techniques, strategies and stratagems and to improve capabilities, communication and interpersonal skills. In addition to the direct work on themselves and with patients, all the students participate to training sessions which illustrate the work of their colleagues. They are joined by teachers and school supervisors which illustrate and explain the model of intervention and the manoeuvres adopted during treatments trough active discussions.
In this way, each student, in two years’ time, will take part actively in more than 500 therapies (this is the only psychotherapy school in the world that can ensure this). In addition, the school organises various days of training (plenary sessions, face-to-face lectures, workshops) focused on the acquisition of therapeutic and communication techniques tailored on the personal and individual characteristics of each student. In fact, a technique cannot be replicated as a photocopy but it should be tailored on the personal characteristics of each single student.
The model models the student as much as the student models the model on himself. At the end of the course, each student will complete at least 5 clinical cases under the direct supervision and in co-therapy with the master, they will receive supervision on cases that they have begun to treat during their profession and the model will become a dress tailored on their personal characteristics.
BEING TRULY STRATEGIC
Many times, experienced therapists have been compared to martial art masters but often these comparisons are improper. However, one of them truly appears reasonable and it concerns training: The Postgraduate School of Brief Strategic Therapy in Arezzo was born in analogy with the training of a warrior monk who was taking place in the ancient Shaolin Temple, the cradle of all martial arts.
Historically, when a young student joined the school, he would be trained hard for five years in all hand to hand combat techniques with the aim of making fist and kick become an extension of the mind. Then, the student would be trained for a more prolonged period in the use of weapons to make dagger, sword and bow, become an extension of the arm and of the mind. Then students had to devote to the study of philosophy, science, art, rhetoric and music for a prolonged period to make after ten years of such a work the weapon an extension of the arm, the arm an extension of the mind and the mind an extension of the heart.
The therapists trained at the school of Arezzo are not only coldly trained to the technique, as it is affirmed by some denigrator, but they are trained to use all their personal resources together with advanced strategies and stratagems to successfully treat even the most debilitating forms of psychopathology.
An experienced therapist must be, at the same time, a scientist and an artist, a rigorous executor and a creative performer. A therapy is never a mere repetition of a protocol, it can never be the rigid cold repetition of procedures within a fixed sequence, but rather, an ongoing artistic interpretation of a dramatic script where improvisation is not an exception but the rule. But to know how to improvise, how all the great artists teach us, it is first necessary to know how to handle the technique at its best. Without a very sophisticated technical learning, improvisation it is only irresponsible recklessness.
Prof. Giorgio Nardone (Director of the Centro di Terapia Strategica)
Prof. Alessandro Salvini (Professor of clinical Psychology at the University of Padua)
Prof. Pio Enrico Ricci Bitti (Professor of general Psychology at the University of Bologna)
Arezzo – P.zza S. Agostino, n.11 – 52100 (AR)
Firenze – P.zza della Repubblica, n.5 – 50123 (FI)
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