Giorgio Nardone graduated at the University of Siena, faculty of Education, with a thesis on philosophy of science. Subsequently, he conducted a research project on the epistemology of clinical psychology and of the various psychotherapy models, as an assistant to the Chair of Professor Mariano Bianca. In this work, he analysed the epistemological criteria of the different models of psychotherapy. He immediately realised that the only model among all that could stand up to this close examination was the one of the School of Palo Alto, that is, the works produced by the group of the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California. In fact, the researchers of this Institute, leaded by Don. D. Jackson, formulated a model of “interactional” therapy based on the study of the effects of communication on behaviour and on mental health of human beings. Later, Paul Watzlawick developed a real theory on pragmatics of communication and change (Watzlawick et al., 1967, Watzlawick et al., 1974) along with a corresponding therapeutic intervention model applicable to a variety of mental disorders.
Giorgio Nardone obtained, and he will be eternally grateful for this, a scholarship by the University of Siena to study the work of such eminent scholars on site. Therefore, in the early 1980s he arrived in Palo Alto and, together with a rigorous study of the scientific material produced by the researchers, he was allowed to directly observe the clinical work that was being done in the Mental Research Institute (MRI) as a resident researcher. In this experience, he found the manifestation of a well-known Gregory Beatson’s statement: “there is nothing more practical than a good theory”. During this experience, he felt “struck by lightning” on the road to Damascus and decided to change the course of his studies and of his professional career. Therefore, once he returned to Italy, while completing his research project he was able to enter the exclusive Postgraduate School of Psychology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Siena. After three years, he became the youngest Italian to be awarded the title of Specialist in Psychology. At the same time, during these studies, he had returned every year for a few months, at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, at his own expenses, to be trained as Interactional-strategic therapist. Once his training was completed, he started a research project (1985/86) to develop a short-term treatment of phobic and obsessive disorders under the supervision of Paul Watzlawick and John Weakland. During this project, he began to develop innovative intervention techniques in an area of pathology that was barely explored by the traditional MRI model.
EARLY RESEARCH AND PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
Thanks to this project, the collaboration between Giorgio Nardone and Paul Watzlawick became closer and closer and it brought to the joint foundation, in 1987, of the Strategic Therapy Centre of Arezzo as a Research, Training and Psychotherapy institute, which gave the start to the modern evolution of Brief Strategic Therapy. The partnership between Paul Watzlawick and Giorgio Nardone expressed itself through research, publications, seminars and conferences around the world and proceeded until the death of the master.
In 1988, the outcome of the action-research on phobic-obsessive disorders was published. The really encouraging results started the tradition of studies of the Strategic Therapy Centre of Arezzo (40 out of 42 cases had completely overcome their agoraphobic disorder with a therapy duration of 11 sessions followed by follow-up meetings taking place three months, six months and one year after the end of the treatment). The same action-research methodology was applied to the study of all variants of panic and obsessive-compulsive disorders. In the following years, these studies lead to the development of proper strategic treatment protocols for these disabling disorders that stood out for effectiveness and efficiency compared with other forms of therapy.
For this reason, many colleagues have arrived, since then, to study this new psychotherapy model. This, of course, was facilitated by the presence of the eminent figure of Paul Watzlawick.
In the same period, from 1985 to 1990, Giorgio Nardone participated, as research collaborator, in numerous research and intervention projects in the areas of social, clinical and educational psychology, under the direction of Saulo Sirigatti, Director of the Institute of General and Clinical psychology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Siena.
PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS AND ACADEMIC RECOGNITIONS
In 1990, the manifesto of the evolved Brief Strategic Therapy was published: The art of change. Strategic therapy and hypnotherapy without trance, written by Giorgio Nardone and Paul Watzlawick. This text explained in detail treatment protocols and innovative strategies and therapeutic communication techniques that were defined: hypnosis without trance. The book was immediately translated into many languages and Giorgio Nardone was catapulted into the worldwide limelight of psychotherapy.
In 1991, Giorgio Nardone was designated as a lecturer in the first Italian university course of “Brief Psychotherapy Technique” at the Postgraduate School of Psychology by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Siena. He has held this position for over 10 years and then passed it to his disciple Dr. Emanuela Muriana.
From 1994 to 1995 he was Professor of social psychology at the Faculty of Sociology of the University Federico II of Naples.
In the same years, he taught “Hypnotherapy without trance” at the Postgraduate School of General Hypnosis at the Faculty of Medicine of the University La Sapienza of Rome. directed by Professor Franco Granone.
THE MODEL BECOMES CERTIFIED AND CERTIFYING
In 2000, the training school of the brief strategic therapy model of Arezzo was recognised by the Ministry of Education, University and research (MIUR) as a Four-year Postgraduate School of Brief strategic Therapy (D.M. 20/11/200) which issues the title of psychotherapist and Giorgio Nardone becomes the youngest Italian founder and director of an Official School of Psychotherapy recognised on the basis of a model formulated by himself.
The Brief Strategic Therapy, Giorgio Nardone’s model has obtained international recognition and it is registered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as a trademark and patent. In this way, the model declared its originality also compared to traditional brief strategic therapy models.
From 2006 to 2011, he was the lecturer of the course “the interview in clinical psychology” in the 2-year specialisation degree in clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florence.
THE MODEL DEMONSTRATES ITS SUPERIOR EFFICACY (88% OF CASES WERE LED TO THE ELIMINATION OF THE DISORDER) AND EFFICIENCY (THE AVERAGE DURATION OF A THERAPY WAS 7 SESSIONS)
In 2000, a longitudinal study on the outcomes of treatments carried out in the previous decade at the Strategic Therapy Centre of Arezzo was conducted. All these therapies were fully video-recorded and the follow-ups were performed until one year after the end of the therapy. The results show the clear superiority in terms of efficacy and efficiency of the Brief Strategic Therapy compared to other models of therapeutic intervention.
In recent years, comparative research on the efficiency and efficacy of psychotherapies showed even clearly as the Brief Strategic Therapy model stands out over all the other forms of clinical intervention even in direct comparison with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT, considered the international gold standard). Such a comparison, carried out using evidence-based medicine, Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) and longitudinal studies with external observers, demonstrates a greater effectiveness and efficiency of this model (Pietrabissa et al., 2016, Gibson, 2015, Nardone e Salvini, 2013, Castelnuovo et al., 2011, Elkaim, 2007).
More than 30 years have passed since the first studies in Palo Alto and during this time Giorgio Nardone has treated personally more than 25,000 cases and has contributed to the development of a Model adopted by thousands of professionals around the world which were trained directly at the Strategic Therapy Centre of Arezzo. The Centre has now become the reference point of the strategic approach not only as a therapy but as an actual school of thought.
At present, over 30 research projects have been carried out to develop treatments for the most important forms of psychopathology and over 40 works reporting the results of research conducted at the Institute of Arezzo have been published by Giorgio Nardone and his collaborators. Some of these works have been translated into over 10 languages. For example, The art of change. Strategic therapy and hypnotherapy without trance and Fears, Panics and Phobias. A brief therapy, have been considered for over 25 years as a true classics best/long seller in bookstores around the world. Other books such as Brief Strategic Therapy. Philosophy, techniques, and research are used as a textbook by leading international universities.
Giorgio Nardone is currently involved in research, training and therapy at the Strategic Therapy Centre of Arezzo, he is director of the Postgraduate School in brief strategic Therapy, he supervises for Ponte alle Grazie the series of brief therapy essays and gives lectures, seminars, workshops and conferences to the general public around the world.