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practice in other professions without breaking family therapy’s copyright (Child, 1989, 2010). It doesn’t take a whole training for any professional to use a genogram routinely as part of the recording of family case-information, nor to take a break near the end of a session. Let’s free up energy again, as we all did before the profession was established (Speed, 2011). As long as a worker takes care to adapt and use any systemic practices within his or her own professional work context and standards, without professing to be doing family therapy or being a family therapist, then they should be encouraged and reported for good practice.

5. AFT would do well to fi nd, identify best practices, and sing the praises of all the unsung teaching and training eff orts by family therapists in courses and set ings that are not offi cially family therapy training. How are AFT and other family therapy institutions best developing this important arm of systemic practiceAFT


6. AFT should be careful what it calls a half-trained family therapist in a diff erent profession – systemic practitioner is a confusing job title on its own, and I say a training in systemic practiceAFT

would not be the same (footnote in Child, 2010).

For family therapy in the community

AFT’s Aspens network for the non-

statutory sector is taking off . But AFT as a whole needs to switch on to what is needed to promote this sector eff ectively. As well as the overall campaigning, AFT might benefi t clients and family therapists in the community by providing the following: 1. A steady stream of thinking designed for the non-statutory sector that has not been cobbled together from models designed for the NHS sector. For example, training, research models, and experience with and for clients who are not carrying labelled disorders; training that specifi es experience of families that are not two-generations and not so CAMHS-shaped; training from specialist couples-counselling/therapy trainers with placements in couples- based work set ings; catching up with models across the world (e.g. North American couple-therapy; mindfulness);

Context February 2012

training for systemic psychotherapy with individuals and organisational consultation; and preparation for working on your own and for running your own business.

2. Steady at ention to relevant issues for family therapy in the community (e.g. raising the profi le in the media, building the services up, and how to earn a living there). Linking with other related community organisations (e.g. family therapy institutes who run workshops about family therapy in the community; and especially Relate with its lead in the community, its couple counselling, its family counsellors, its systemic training, etc.). T ere are also very diff erent situations and contexts in diff erent areas and in devolved UK nations.

3. Assist Aspens to develop resources for therapists, e.g. guidelines and information sheets on how to work in the non-statutory sector. T e fi rst paragraph might be “Don’t expect to earn an easy living” and (therefore) “Expect to work without a live team”. Another paragraph would be about how to help families value the benefi ts of family therapy in comparison to how they value a family outing, or an evening out – or perhaps even what a trip to a lawyer would cost – all of which have far less positive and lasting eff ects than family therapy can off er in a few sessions.

4. Aspens is pioneering easy accessibility to meetings and others via the internet. AFT could look at ways to ease the fi nancial burden for those who struggle as they start to earn a living from a job as a family therapist in the non-statutory sector. How can they be supported so they do not have to fi nd an entirely diff erent job?

Conclusion We have defi ned and confi rmed the

practical power and ethical principles of systemic thinking, therapy and practice. Reviewing our achievements, we applauded what we have done so far and what we will applaud as we move more boldly into systemic practice with other professions, and as we promote family therapy services in the non-statutory sector. I have suggested how we in AFT might do this. Only by rising to this challenge can we continue to be systemic and collectively ethical.

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References Child, N. (1989) Family therapy: The rest of the picture. Journal of Family Therapy, 11: 281-296. Child, N. (2000) The limits of the medical model in child psychiatry. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 5: 11-21. Child, N. (2003) Defi cient attention and disordered activity: Child psychiatry’s response to ADHD. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 8: 167-178. Child, N. (2010) The potential of systemic practice: A huge army of great workers. Context, 110: 18-22. Cross, S., Hubbard, A. & Munro, E. (2010) Reclaiming Social Work. (Report: http://tinyurl. com/689zch8). Dallos, R. & Draper, R. (2010) An Introduction to Family Therapy: Systemic Theory and Practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press, McGraw-Hill. McKay, B. & Mills-Powell, D. (2007) Space for GRRAACCEESS: Some refl ections on training for cultural competence. Journal of Family Therapy, 29: 364-367. Rivett, M. & Street, E. (2009) Family Therapy: 100 Key Points and Techniques. Hove: Routledge. Rolland, J.S. (1994) Families, Illness and Disability: An Integrative Treatment Model. New York: Basic Books. Speed, B. (2011) (Ed) The origins of family therapy in the UK and Ireland. Context, 115. Stanbridge, R. & Burbach, F. (2007) Developing family-inclusive mainstream mental health services. Journal of Family Therapy, 29: 21-43. Taylor, D.C. (1982) The components of sickness: Diseases, illnesses and predicaments. In J. Apley & C. Ounsted (Eds.) One Child. London: Spastics International Medical Publications. Walsh, F. (2006) Strengthening Family Resilience (2nd ed). New York: Guilford Press. Wulff , D., St. George, S. & Besthorn, F. (2011) Revisiting confi dentiality: Observations from family therapy practice. Journal of Family Therapy, 33: 199-214.

Nick Child is a retired child and family psychiatrist, now a family therapist in the charitable sector in Couple Counselling Lothian in Edinburgh. More of his writing is on where his references above will also be most easily found. Email:


Systemic means much more – in the community and for other professions

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