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1st and 2nd order Change - the New Code way…
Posted: 26 December 2011 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  8
Joined  04-12-2011

Hi all,

I’m posting this query in the hope that someone can help me clarify something from my reading of ‘Whispering’... It’s about 1st and 2nd order change and I have 2 specific questions:

The first is to do with the choices John and Carmen made about addiction, physical symptoms and issues associated with significant 2ndry gain being the members of the class of 2nd order change… I can understand that all 3 are behaviours, etc that serve a purpose, e.g. addiction serving the possible purpose of supplying relaxation at a higher logical level, or physical symptoms serving the purpose of being within the class of unconscious signals that signify that something is out of equilibrium within the body system, etc, etc… My question is: Does anyone know the rules/criteria John and Carmen used to select these 3 and not other potential ‘behaviours’?

My thinking as I work around this one is that anxiety could be such a context for 2nd order change - after all it too might serve a purpose, i.e. signalling concerns around safety and security, etc… (although perhaps because it signals often through physical symptoms or is associated with 2ndry gain (i.e. the securing of reassurance or proximity seeking with important others) it fits within the membership of the class of all behaviours associated with 2nd order change???)...

If anyone can help me think this through some more then I would really value this - perhaps even suggest some alternative frames from which I can begin my enquiry…

My 2nd question is linked to whether anyone knows how John’s use of 1st and 2nd order change (i.e. bounded and unbounded) fits with more typical notions of these concepts within the field of therapy and specifically systemic/strategic therapy…

My understanding of these terms comes from my training in systemic models where 1st order change relates to changes within a given system/context, i.e. a change in behaviour, thoughts, feelings, cycles of interaction, etc (changes amongst the variety of moves one can play in a given game) whilst 2nd order change relates to a change to the governing frames of reference that set the scene for such behaving, thinking, feeling, interacting, etc… (i.e. a change to the rules for how the game is played)... E.g. Watzlawick et al (1974) “Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution”... Often the use of 2nd order change (as far as I’ve so far understood this from my supervisor; a systemic psychotherapist) is linked to changes (reframing) in beliefs, presuppositions and rules at the level of the system so that those within it come to a set of new meanings and understandings about what it is that they do together such that the original problem situation is re-evaluated and re-interpreted (Noah’s posts on Description, Interpretation and Evaluation have really helped me think more broadly about such things). This seems to me different to the description in ‘Whispering’ where such things as beliefs, etc could conceivably fit into the class of 1st order change if they were not associated with 2ndry gain, etc…


Any thoughts, suggestions, help, guidance, questions, reflections, stories, metaphors and so on would be gratefully received.

Thanks and all the best for the New Year,


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Posted: 15 March 2013 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  7
Joined  25-09-2011


[ Edited: 22 October 2013 06:48 AM by noah.scales ]
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