Post-Milan theory from the perspective of the mutual regulation model: What does infant research have to say to a family therapy based on conversation?

William Maslow Levine (1991)

"Post-Milan" theory has endeavored to differentiate itself from strategic and structural models of family therapy. Language is at the center of this theory, and the therapeutic model evolving from it is based upon conversation or discourse (Anderson & Goolishian, 1988; Hoffman, 1990). These Post-Milan ideas are examined from the perspective of the Mutual Regulation Model (MRM) of infant research (Gianino & Tronick, 1988). It is argued that MRM research supports the Post-Milan emphasis on language, while suggesting theoretical limitations. Three MRM concepts are considered to have particular relevence for Post-Milan theory. "Mismatch" helps clarify some of what has heretofor been obscure and confusing in Post-Milan discussions of language. "Affective displays" (and caregiver sensitivity to them) highlights emotion as a missing element in Post-Milan theory. "PRESAS" suggests an important way in which problems evolve, and offers implications for how problems "dis-solve." It is argued that MRM research offers ideas about the role of the Post-Milan therapist and the purpose of therapy.