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In this article, we critically review the epistemological transition from a modernist or first-order cybernetic approach in which subject-object dualism is implicitly assumed and enacted within the therapeutic relationship, to the current postmodern, second-order approach. Problems associated with both epistemological persuasions are examined. We propose a theoretical way out of the epistemological corner defined by a former naive realism, on the one hand, and the current potential for a nonfunctional relativism, on the other. This route is created through an integration of systemic and constructivist metatheory whereby therapist knowledge, as fallible as it may be, is afforded a rightful place within the therapy relationship. Moreover, participant-observation is considered a necessary extension to the postmodern emphasis on therapistreflexivitybecause it reinstates the importance of therapist knowledge (i.e., objectifications of family dynamics and experiences). It is suggested that the willingness to engage in the process of intersubjective meaning creation, guided by the therapist and the client, but driven by the client's own knowing and experiencing, is central to the success of therapy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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