I founded the EUROPEAN INSTITUTE OF SYSTEMIC-RELATIONAL THERAPIES-EIST in 1999. The clinical and research activity was immediately launched, while the psychotherapy school began in 2002 in Milan, and Turin where I had taught.
The idea of starting a new school of psychotherapy took shape as I was writing the first edition of Permitted Stories, Forbidden Stories. Precisely during that drafting, I felt acutely – and I would add painfully – that the intellectual context within which the theory I was developing had matured was dying, or was at least taking directions within which I was struggling to find myself.
For some years, taking advantage of the fact that I had to spend most of the week in Venice, I had become an associate professor of Ca’Foscari, I stopped teaching in the Milanese family therapy center directed by Luigi Boscolo and Gianfranco Cecchin.
Despite the esteem and the splendid interpersonal relationships with Boscolo and Cecchin, I did not share the developments they were giving to the Milan Approach. I found myself in disagreement with: the devaluation of the therapeutic process – summed up in the idea that each session was always the first; the thesis that each hypothesis was equally profitable for the psychotherapeutic process, as long as it was different from that of the family and therefore capable of introducing negative entropy; the disinterest in any attempt to model the family dynamics in compliance with a relativism that devalues any claim to understand family dynamics, and the lack of attention to psychopathology.
Nor did I agree with the choices of Mara Selvini Palazzoli who, after separating from Boscolo and Cecchin, had decided to extend the so-called invariable prescription to all treatments, an intervention that is certainly interesting but which, in my opinion, was applicable to limited case types.
It seemed to me that the most innovative proposals of the Milan Approach, and also of systemic thinking, were slowly dying out. Hence, it was necessary to give life to a school that was an intellectual center capable of reviving Gregory Bateson’s idea of a contextual subject and to creatively developing and evolving systemic thinking. I did this together with the colleagues with whom I felt closest, including Maurizio Viaro, David Campbell, Laura Colangelo, and Primo Gelati, Did we succeed? Certainly, we have created a hothouse of psychotherapists passionate about systemic psychotherapies who are already creatively contributing to the model, and the initial group has expanded greatly, Currently, they are engaged in school and related scientific activities, in addition to the colleagues with whom this adventure began we have: Federica Azzetta, Stefania Baccanelli, Daniele Castelli, Roberta Di Pasquale, Lisa Fellin, Laura Galbiati, Gabriella Gandino, Manuela Genchi, Stella Guarnieri, Elisa Gusmini, Lisa Lever, Enrico Molinari, Edoardo Perini, Ferdinando Salamino, Marco Schneider, Emanuele Zanaboni.