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Great Ormond Street , London, Department of Psychological Medicine, 1977/8. Back (left to right): Marilyn Thomas, Anne Elton, Jane, Steve Dorner, Ruth Erskine, Bryan Lask, Lilian, Fiona Subotsky, Dora Black, Arnon Bentovim, ?, Ruth Levere (nee Cohen), Ursula, Lorna Gilmour, ?, Jo Douglas, ?, ?, ?, Warren Kinston, ?, Rolene Szur, ?, Peter Loader, Petya. Front (left to right): Richard Lansdowne, Roy Howarth, Connie Young, 2 Mildred Creek Unit staff , Kirk Weir, Judy Hildebrand, Don, ?, Philip Graham, Charlotte Burck, Phoebe Thomas.

helpful dynamic model. We then became aware that family therapists in the US used a wide variety of methods which appeared to be effective when applied to families. We linked these ideas to psychoanalytic thinking by focusing on altering patterns of action and meaning fixed by past trauma. We developed a theory for each family in relation to their particular history and development, and incorporated the various techniques of working with families as ways of creating change to fit with our theory about the specific family. These ideas were developed through

establishing a workshop in 1973, initially jointly with a member of David Malan’s Tavistock brief therapy focal workshop. Members of the team included Anne Elton, Steven Dorner and Warren Kinston. The GOS Family Therapy Workshop later included Bryan Lask, Dora Black, Danya Glaser, Peter Loader, Tilman Furness, Judy Hildebrand, Charlotte Burck and many others, acting as a forum for developing ideas as well as practice with one-way screens and video. A number of papers materialised, for

example, ‘Focal family therapy – joining systems theory with psychodynamic understanding’ (Handbook of Family Therapy Volume 2 (Eds) A. Gurman & D. Kniskern , Brunner Mazel, 1991). We noted that psychoanalytic theories,


which developed in the UK – e.g. ‘object relations’ – created a context in which it was easier for family therapy models to maintain links with the psychoanalytic tradition, rather than be set up in opposition as in the US. ‘Independent’ psychoanalytic schools of thought in the UK highlighted the role of the emotional environment and the importance of relationships with mother and the family (Bowlby and Winnicott). The awareness of the traumatic impact of World War II and the Holocaust on individuals and families also proved to be an important inf luence. The disturbance in a person is invariably linked to a relationship problem with key others in the immediate and wider social context. Object relations theory describes the ‘internal pattern of family relationships’ with implications for roles and relationships in group functioning and family roles which led Skynner to develop family therapy in this way. In 1975, the Family Studies Group was founded (headed by Warren Kinston with Peter Loader, Charlotte Burck, Jackie Stratford and Liza Bingley-Miller) which began the systemic study of family relationships, publishing a series of papers in the 80s (Eliciting whole Family Interaction, the Family Task Interview, Quantifying the clinical assessment of Family Health, Clinical assessments

of family therapy, the development of a Family Interaction Format in 1981, Family description in 1984). These developments, which proved to be robust and helpful in clinical and research settings, have formed the basis for the family assessment developed by Liza Bingley Miller and myself for the Department of Health. At the same time, we were applying

these approaches to the field of child protection. In 1968, I had been appointed lead for management of child protection in GOS. We established various services to work with abused children and families, focusing on physical abuse in the 60s, sexual abuse in the 70s, children who were induced into major health syndromes in the 80s, further research on therapeutic work in the 90s continuing to the present. The group who were part of the Family Therapy Workshop had a key role in the development of clinical practice in the field of sexual abuse and the “child sexual abuse in the family” (1989) included contributions from Anne Elton, Judy Hildebrand, Marianne Tranter, Eileen Vizard, Danya Glazer, and Tilman Furness. I became re-involved with jazz during

the 80s with the introduction of a more formal approach to jazz education in workshops for musicians of all levels

Context June 2011

Jazz and family therapy – my journey

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