The family systems approach of John T. Edwards has its foundation in the structural/strategic schools of Jay Haley and Salvador Minuchin, where the geometric finesse of observing the inherent dynamics of a family system guided the execution of powerfully-precise interventions. John's roots in rural Georgia infused his systems theory with a Southern sensibility that flows through his work with families.
This deceptively nonchalant style was the distillation of decades of studying the complexity of family dynamics...and then rendering it comprehensible to professionals in a wide range of human service. In his own words.....
With every family, I am a student.
Where possible, make it happen in the room, not in the future.
The process should be one in which everyone gains.
Join with the adults to help a child.
When the system gets stuck, add or subtract.
Think in terms of multiple causes of behavior.
Use your own feelings as information about the family.
When the dynamics are too obvious, don't take large steps.
Don't do what you can get a family member to do.
(From post-it notes to himself in his shop where John spent many hours)
"One word sums up the credo: Patience."
"We're all learners and we're all teachers."
"The way you teach is what you teach."
"Learn to pause, and allow something to catch up with you."
"The here and now present is the most powerful moment in history."
"Take the spiritual significance of this moment to heart."
John Edwards was doing a workshop at Randolph Clinic in the mid 1980’s in Charlotte at the Randolph Clinic utilizing the 1 way observation glass installed there. John and the counselors attending the training were on one side of the glass and a counselor (Katherine) was with an adolescent and his parents on the other side. The adolescent and family were aware of this arrangement and had graciously given their permission. Katherine was doing an excellent job with the family until a large housefly appeared in the room. Katherine ignored it. The adolescent and his parents did not. As we watched… 3 pairs of eyes (the adolescent, his mom and his dad) followed that fly up to the ceiling where he stayed for a short while, then to the wall to the right, then as he did some erratic flying maneuvers past them to get to the left, then back to the ceiling and he continued these aerobatic movements for several minutes. The eye movements of the 3 family members continued to track the movements of the fly. John stood up, went to the phone system, buzzed Katherine and said “Katherine, acknowledge the fly”. She said “What do you mean?” John replied “Just say ‘there is a fly in the room’” and he hung up. John turned to the group of counselors and said “Who had the power in that room?” Some folks thought it was the adolescent, some thought it was the counselor, some thought it was mom, some thought it was dad. The session had been taped & John played back that particular segment. He said “Who has the power in that room?” The group observed the segment and replied “The FLY”. John said “Yes.. the fly had all the power in that session. But once you name something or acknowledge it… it loses that power.”