Karl Tomm

Karl tomm.jpgKey speaker

Karl Tomm
is Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Calgary and the Director of its Family Therapy Program.

He is deeply interested in the application of systems theory, narrative theory, social constructionism, and second order cybernetics to therapy. One of his most important contribution to family therapy is known as interventive interviewing and has influenced family therapists all around the world.

He is currently focused on clarifying the effects of social injustice on families and on explicating the possible therapeutic and counter therapeutic effects of the interviewing process itself.

Karl Tomm will animate the Masterclass that will precede the Conference on Thursday, June 22, 2017. He will present some of his latest work and give participants the opportunity to see him working clinically with clients. The presentation and clients' interviews will be held in English.

Note: the Masterclass is available only to Conference delegates (limited number of places).


Conference's abstract

(Presentation in English with simultaneous translation into French, June 23 at 10:00)

“Patterns of Interpersonal Interaction that Influence Mental Health”

The systemic approach in family, couple, and individual psychotherapy gives priority to understanding the context of human behavior, thoughts, feelings, and experience.  It focuses on identifying and clarifying patterns of interaction between clients and significant others which contribute to specific experiences and behaviors.  Several years ago, Karl and his colleagues developed a model of systemic assessment that distinguishes between Pathologizing Interaction Patterns (PIPs), Healing Interaction Patterns (HIPs), Wellness Interaction Patterns (WIPs), Transforming Interpersonal Patterns (TIPs), and Deteriorating Interpersonal Patterns (DIPs). Recently he and his colleagues have refined this “IPscope” framework, and have extended it to include SocioCultural Interpersonal Patterns (SCIPs) as well. A new book on this approach has been published in May of 2014.

Compared to a traditional psychiatric assessment, a systemic approach to assessment is much less pathologizing. Since a PIP exists in the interpersonal space between persons, labeling or “diagnosing” the PIP has fewer stigmatizing effects on the people involved than diagnosing an individual with a mental disorder. Systemic assessment also provides guidance for therapeutic interventions. That is, once a particular PIP has been identified as part of a relationship system, a specific HIP can usually be conceptualized as an antidote to that PIP. Formulating the central PIPs and HIPs in a clinical situation provides an overall map, which helps clinicians initiate TIPs, bring forth HIPs and WIPs, and avoid DIPs. As a result, therapeutic initiatives for constructive change can become more focused and rigorous.