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circular questioning

This technique, used in systemic therapy, aims at gathering and, at the same time, introducing information into the family system. The gathering of information aids in the formulation and validation of hypotheses regarding the family's dynamic structure (hypothesis formation). The transmission of information aims at changing the individual's and the family's epistemology of themselves. According to Bateson (1979), "information is the difference which makes a difference." For example, each participant in a family therapy session is asked in turn to express his or her views on the relationships and the differences between other family members. Thus, each family member contributes on a metalevel (metacommunication) to the development of an image of the family structure, and to an understanding of the circular (circularity) nature of the relationships in the family.

Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.: Language of Family Therapy: A Systemic Vocabulary and Source Book (Family Process Press Series)