Jay Haley is, quite simply, one of the most influential theorists of the past century. His early research on schizophrenia was groundbreaking in its focus on how dysfunctional communication patterns within families actually helped drive some people crazy. He later went on to establish a school of strategic therapy that was based on research he conducted as well as on consultations with some of the most innovative thinkers of his time.
Haley's brand of family therapy was based on the principle that people get stuck when they persist in doing things that are not working. His strategy was to (1) help clients identify the kinds of problems that could be more easily solved, (2) reframe those difficulties so that they were nore amenable to change, (3) design interventions that would disrupt the dysfunctional communication patterns, and (4) make changes in the plan according to the responses generated. As a practitioner, Haley was provocative, powerful, and creative, beyond anything that had been seen previously.
Haley's many publications span four decades and cover a number of significant areas. As the intellectual biographer for his mentor, Milton Erickson, Haley introduced the world to his brief therapy methods. Many of his former clients might very well say about Haley that his behavior was occasionally more strange than their own presenting problem
At the time we spoke to Haley, he was seventy-eight years old, semi-retired, and concentrating his efforts on making training videos for therapists. [adapted from The Mummy at the Dining Room Table (2003)]