||de Shazer, Steve
||W. W. Norton & Company
While this book evolves naturally from de Shazer's earlier works, here he abandons his characteristically terse style. He quotes not only Sherlock Holmes ("It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts") but also Freud ("Words were originally magic and to this day words have retained much of their ancient magical power.... Thus we shall not depreciate the use of words in psychotherapy and we shall be pleased if we can listen to the words that pass between the analyst and his patient") in emphasizing the importance of a close study of the therapeutic conversation. In explicating how language works in therapy, he ranges widely, citing and critiquing Lacan, Bateson, Ackerman, and Weakland, among others. But the heart of this book can be found in the detailed conversations between client and therapist that show solution-focused therapy in action. The magic of words can be seen in the miracle question - "Suppose that one night there is a miracle and while you are sleeping the problem that brought you into therapy is solved. How would you know? What would be different?" - and in sealing questions - "Suppose 10 is the problem is gone and 0 is the problem at its worst. Where are you now?" Pursued persistently but respectfully, these questions enable people to imagine and create new futures for themselves, to come up with their own solutions. De Shazer's many fans will be delighted with this book; for those therapists who sense that they should learn something about the brief therapy model that is sweeping the field, Words Were Originally Magic will be a wonderful introduction.