A review of Roizblatt, A. (Ed.) (2005). Terapia Familiar y de Pareja. Santiago, Chile: Mediterráneo.
When I first read Arturo Roizblatt’s Edited Volume Terapia Familiar y de Pareja, I was so impressed and enthusiastic that I wrote Dr. Roizblatt, whom I had never met, saying I wanted to do a review of the book. I am very happy to have the opportunity to do it for this inaugural issue of the Intenational Journal of Collaborative Practices (IJCP) because it seems like a particularly appropriate forum. Terapia Familiar y de Pareja is not a book about collaborative practices, it is in itself a clear example of collaboration and of a productive international endeavor.
When I think of this book, I imagine a celebration, a party with guests from all over the world. Have you ever looked at the maps in the back of airplane magazines, the kind that have the routes connecting the airline´s hub with all its different destinations? I picture Dr. Roizblatt in Santiago de Chile as the hub with dozens of lines connecting Europe, North and South America, creating a bright colorful web. The contributors to Terapia Familiar y de Pareja come from Oslo, Santiago, Milán, Madrid, Barcelona and Athens (GA), Garden City and Mexico City, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, Buenos Aires, Calgary, Palm Beach, Boulder, Highland Park, Springfield, Palo Alto,Washington D.C., Louisville, Hammond, Schaumburg IL and Hamburg, Germany.
The contributors are an impressive group, a sample of important theoreticians and practitioners in family thearapy, from founders of the field to a new generation of young clinicians. There are chapters by Humberto Maturana, Paul Watzlawick and Wendel Ray, William Nichols, Luigi Boscolo, Celia Falicov, Monica McGoldrick, Tom Andersen, Florence Kaslow, Duncan Stanton, Karl Tomm and Tom Strong, Jack Saul and Judith Landau, to mention some names that may be well known to our Anglophone readers. Spanish speaking therapists are probably familiar with work of Juan Luis Linares, Jorge Colapinto, C. Rausch Herzovici, Marcelo Pakman and Arturo Roizblatt, among others. For me, reading Terapia Familiar y de Pareja was like attending a party where I saw old friends and was excited to meet new people. It made me embarrasingly aware of how little I know about our colleagues in South America and reading the contributions of Carrasco, Bernales, Domínguez and Covarrubias made me wonder why I had not met them sooner and want to learn more about their work. I felt proud and glad to see chapters by my Mexican colleagues Ismael Díaz and Luz de Lourdes Eguiluz. I was particularly touched reading a chapter by my dear friend Emily Sued, who passed away a year ago, and the writings of Tom Andersen and Paul Watzlawick, which were probably among their last publications.
The 44 chapters in Roizblatt’s book cover a lot of ground. They start with an epistemological section that highlights constructivist and language based conceptualizations of therapy. Part II of the book presents ideas that are not exclusive to any specific school of therapy and can be useful for therapists of diverse orientations. The third section presents excellent introductions to eight different therapy approaches: MRI’s interactional model, structural, Milan, symbolic experiential, social constructionist, Bowenian, solution focused and narrative therapy. There is a part about special difficulties that families may face, like migration, mourning, violence, violation of human rights, infertility, eating disorders, HIV and AIDS, mental illness and addictions. It also includes chapters based on life cycle matters, like “young” families, children and adolescents. There is one section devoted to couples which includes research on long lasting partnerships, theoretical perspectives on couplehood, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral couple´s therapy, the implementation of a “couple’s clinic”, mediation and therapy with divorcing couples and stepfamilies. The last section focuses on broader social contexts like poverty and social justice and the book ends on an inspiring note with two chapters on family resilience.
I think this book is an excellent resource for graduate training in Family Therapy. I have already used it in my classes and see how it can be useful for a variety of courses, from Introduction to Family Therapy, to Schools of Family Therapy, Couple’s Therapy, Larger Systems, “Special Issues”…it is full of up-to-date, high quality material. One thing that struck me was that you can feel not just that the authors are true experts in their topic, but that they are passionate about it and you can almost hear the author’s “voice” in their writings.
My daughter was telling me the other day that in school she learned how to give feedback using the “compliment sandwich”: start with a compliment, then a critique and finish with another compliment. I guess many of us use this recipe intuitively, but I did not know it had a name. I definitely like Roizblatt’s book very much and give it two thick slices of genuine admiration and appreciation, but I do have to put a couple of pickles in this sandwich. One has to do with translation. Several of the chapters were originally written in English and translated to Spanish. And it shows! They often sound like English grammar with Spanish words, sometimes making it hard to understand the text. This literal translation can be hard to avoid, I have often done it myself when I try to be very careful not to modify the author’s text at all (the flip side of this-and a riskier error- happens when a translator takes too many liberties and changes what the author is saying. I once read a Spanish translation of Michael White’s work that said that externalization was a a technique used to repress children’s anger!. But that is another story…) Literal translation also leads to frequent grammatical mistakes in the Spanish versions of some of the chapters, for example an incorrect use of gerunds.
Terapia Familiar y de Pareja brought up an issue that worries me and that is not by any means exclusive to this work: the lack of academic rigor in the writings of many Latin American academics and the different standards that sometimes seem to govern the publication of papers in “our” countries compared others. Some of the authors do not cite correctly, or fail to cite at all. There were stances in which I could identify the original source of a sentence and the author did not reference it. I think this is not acceptable. I can imagine many interesting discussions about the topics of translation and interpretation and about the place of cultural differences in academic practices, but I am running out of space address them here.
Terapia Familiar y de Pareja is one of the most ambitious publications I have seen in the field of Family Therapy. It delivers both in the breadth of topics it covers and the depth in which they are treated. I congratulate Dr. Roizblatt for taking up this project and thank him and his contributors for giving us a book that is not an excellent family therapy text “in Spanish”, but an excellent family therapy text at an international level.
Margarita Tarragona, Grupo Campus Eliseos.