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A retrospective case note review was conducted with the aim of describing the end‐of‐session messages conveyed during Milan‐style systemic family therapy. Fifty consecutive families treated in an adult family clinic were included. A classification of messages was developed; for each type of message the mean number per therapy session was calculated and the rates compared both within and between four systemic categories of family. ‘Supportive/engaging’ messages were given more frequently than ‘hypothesis‐related’ messages in each systemic category and this difference was most marked in families with grief as the central issue. More ‘acknowledgement’ messages were used in the ‘grief’ group than in the ‘separation/individuation’ group. ‘Hypothesis‐related’ messages were used more often in the ‘separation/individuation’ group than in the ‘grief’ group. We discuss possible reasons for the observed patterns and compare different ways in which the message can be conceived and implemented. Copyright © 1992, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Family Therapy

Publication Date





69 - 85