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Brief family therapy, more commonly known as brief therapy, did not evolve out of an earlier, longer-term family therapy approach; rather, it was one of the originating orientations of the field. Primarily associated with the model developed at the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California, in the 1960s, brief therapy is sometimes used more encompassingly to refer also to Jay Haley’s strategic therapy, Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg’s solution-focused brief family therapy (SFBFT), and the work of the Milan team. This entry concentrates primarily on the contributions of the MRI clinicians, but when relevant, it explores conceptual and practice-based connections to the other brief models.


The beginnings of brief therapy can be traced to a research project. Between 1952 and 1962, Gregory ...

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