In 1962, at the close of the Bateson project, Jay Haley and John Weakland joined Jackson at the MRI. In 1967, with Paul Watzlawick and Janet Beavin, he published Pragmatics of Human Communication (Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson, 1967), which was the first book-length treatise on the interactional theories of the MRI. Don Jackson’s premature death in 1968 deprived the field of a major leader and innovator; however, his name will continue to live on through the ongoing accomplishments of the MRI.


Jay Haley remains one of family therapy’s most controversial and most influential leaders (Simon, 1992). With a master’s degree in communications, he began as an outsider to the mental health establishment. Perhaps it was this outsider perspective that enabled him to so easily challenge the traditional psychoanalytic approach of the time and to focus on patterns of family interaction. In fact, none of the original members of the Bateson team held a degree in the mental health field (both Bateson and Weakland were anthropologists).


Although clearly identified as one of the original founders of the strategic school of family therapy, Haley served equally important roles as both a promoter and synthesizer of the ideas in family therapy and a critic of the mental health establishment (Simon, 1992). While a member of the Bateson project, Haley traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, to observe the work of Milton Erickson, a noted psychiatrist and hypnotherapist. Erickson practiced a brief form of hypnotherapy; patients from across the country then would work with him for a few weeks and return home with their problems resolved.