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In summary, DAFT forms the core of a three-

way partnership between the mental health trust, which is now named the Healthcare Foundation Trust, the University of Derby and the Association for Family Therapy. DAFT holds dear its reputation for holding

high quality day-workshops at little or no cost, thanks to the support of the trust and university. We only began charging a nominal amount when we realised that sometimes people booked places for free events that were subsequently oversubscribed, but then did not always arrive. We found that, when we charged £5 or £10, virtually everybody came! We have been privileged to have had a host of talented and inspiring guest facilitators and presenters over the years, including Elsa Jones, Barry Mason, Bebe Speed, John Burnham, Chris Iveson, Judy Hilderbrand, Jim Wilson, Shila Khan, Carmel Flaskas, David Campbell, Paul Blackburn, Steve Bennett, Hugh Jenkins, Peter Stratton, Paula Boston, Brian Cade, Brenda Cox and Barry Bowen. I am sorry if I have missed the names of

friends and colleagues who have joined us over the years. I believe everybody who has connected with DAFT has contributed to its growth and variety. We now have nine qualifi ed family

therapists, fi ve within dedicated posts, working within the Derbyshire Healthcare Trust. The trust has been the key sponsor for the development of systemic thinking, practice and therapy, in partnership with AFT and DAFT throughout the area. The systemic course team at the University of Derby comprises senior lecturers who also practice within the trust. This year saw DAFT hosting the AFT conference and we hope that all the participants experienced a taste of the DAFT hospitality, informality, irreverence and serious play. We felt very nervous and very privileged to host the event and this seems like a good time formally to apologise to the Dorset Association for Family Therapy who we understand were once proud owners of the DAFT title but, unfortunately, had folded before we took our opportunity and they asked for their name back! We hope to keep the name for a few more years yet. However, if we continue to be DAFT as we hope, then we can only move forward with continued replenishment and new members. If anyone out there would like to join us please be in touch by visiting: or emailing me at:

Gary Robinson (chair) on behalf of the DAFT committee

Context February 2012

Pre-conference event This year, the DAFT committee

had hoped to generate a real sense of warmth and welcoming in relation to the conference and to enable people to mix and mingle at the outset to reproduce the informality and sense of connection people often comment upon about DAFT events. To this end, we had the idea of introducing a pre-conference event and the thinking went something like, “Let’s do something that’s fun, but we also need to have something a little serious to enable people to justify taking time from work and explain to their managers why they need to be there a little earlier”. When we decided to have a family therapy music quiz and a question time type panel with a little supper and a free drink, we hoped we might get 30 or 40 people attending. We were astonished to see 160 people congregate on the Thursday evening before the conference began! The feedback seems to indicate our

panel, which was beautifully chaired by Ged Smith and included Sue Jones, Brian Cade, Mark Rivett, Carmel Flaskas and Paolo Bertrando, did a great job in responding to the questions from the floor about the conference theme Extraordinary Practice in Ordinary Circumstances. Six or seven questions were explored and generated a great deal of discussion around the tables, which were organised in a cabaret style fashion with ten people to a table. This was followed by a lovely supper and people were invited to mix and mingle by moving to tables that had a card with the month they were born. Some people

chose to stay with friends and remained comfortable where they were seated: however, the vast majority took up the invitation to move around and meet new people. Stories were shared about their favourite music together with the meanings evoked. The tables then became teams to

participate in the family therapy music quiz, which involved fourteen music tracks with sometimes a clear and sometimes an ambiguous connection with the field of family therapy and systemic practice. This included tracks relating to engagement, social constructionism, intergenerational patterns, gender, post-modernism, lifecycle issues, culture and ethnicity, solution-focused practice, strategic therapy and much, much more. Again, the feedback demonstrated the event was a huge success and achieved the aims of enabling people to settle in, have fun and to meet new people. The cheers and laughter from the tables as each answer was revealed in the quiz will live long in the ears of the committee and the participants. We know that the question time

panel has become a frequent feature of AFT conferences and perhaps the family therapy music quiz may make appearances at future conferences too. Certainly, the idea of a pre-conference event seemed to work very well and hopefully set the context for what has been reported as a friendly, vibrant and participatory conference.

Gary Robinson

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and you would need to be able to commit to reading articles and giving feedback approximately every two months within a two-week timeframe. The task requires a good standard of written English and guidance will be provided as to Context’s house- style. Context’s proof readers are invited to join the AFT Publishing committee and attend occasional publishing meetings, however this is not a requirement. If you would like to contribute to the production of Context as a proof reader please contact Louise Norris, publications co-ordinator by email:


Pre-conference event

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