AFT Annual Conference 2014

I’m off to Liverpool for the Association of Family Therapy Annual Conference at the Adelphi Hotel until Saturday.

This is what AFT say about the conference:


(Dis) respect, freedoms, loyalty, ethics & survival.

We invite you to come to the wonderful, unique city of Liverpool which itself is no stranger to the odd dip into irreverence!

What does it mean to survive in these difficult times? How can we preserve our integrity in our professional and personal
lives? Is it possible that one size fits all?

Planning this conference reminded one committee member of choosing a new pair of running shoes. So, what’s the difference
between one pair and the next you may ask? Surely, each pair does what they were designed to do? However, in choosing a new
pair of running shoes you may have to try out many different designs and styles before finding the one that fits – feels
right at this time, or perhaps have different pairs for different conditions. Whatever fits for you, may not be the same as
someone else’s choice of fit. However, like theories and ideas, shoes share something in common. Many may try to be ‘one size
fits all’ but all borrow, learn, build on and continue to grow from what has gone before.

Increasingly it seems like expectations are being placed upon us, particularly in times of diminishing resources. Pressures
to find that one approach, idea or question that will prove to be the way all therapy should be conducted. The demands placed
on services seem to privilege throughput over therapeutic process. Keeping creativity and curiosity alive in these stormy
seas of external societal and systemic pressures, is a difficult and demanding task.

Not surprisingly then, we can all be tempted to avoid drowning by relying on our main theoretical ballast for floatation.
What then happens to our creativity, playfulness, growth and the taking of the therapeutic risks families need us to do
sometimes? Do we stick with the same old familiar shoes or embrace difference?

As Gianfranco Cecchin wrote

“ … it is at the moment when the therapist begins to reflect upon the effect of his own attitude and presumptions that he
acquires a position that is both ethical and therapeutic. In order to be able to attain this ability for self-reflexivity, we
believe that it is necessary to have a certain level of irreverence and a sense of humour, which one acquires by maintaining
a continuous conversation with colleagues, people outside the mental health field, students and patients alike.”
(Cecchin et al (1992). Irreverence A Strategy for Therapists Survival. Karnac Books)

Invited speakers include Rudi Dallos, John Burnham, Arlene Vetere, Jim Wilson, Ged Smith, Gerrilyn Smith, Sharon Bond and Amanda Jones.

We also have a wide range of workshops. The plan is that we have 4 large key workshops running at one time. We then have a l
arge number of conference ‘fringe’ workshops and activities. Workshops submitted by: Amanda Middleton, David Pocock,
Steve Harrison, Valeria Ugazio, Victoria Jones, Lisa Rudgley, Maria Nichterlein, Gary Robinson, Pete Brown, Elaine Holliday,
Vicky Eames, Mark Huhynen, Nick Child, Sandra Bryson, Barry mason, Abby Maitland, Mark Rivett, and many more.
The full programme will be available shortly. A taster of workshops being:

Abby Matiland – Finding a fit with kids who don’t fit in and creative ways to engage anxious, hard to engage teenagers.
Damian McCann – Gender, sexuality and the couple relationship: time for a rethink?
Sandra Bryson – An unholy marriage? A systemic/psychodynamic approach to consultancy
Steve Harrison – Love, irreverence – an externalized letter writing workshop
Hannah Sherbersky et al – Child IAPT and Systemic Family practice – Irreverence, Ambivalence and Perseverance in an Evidenced
Based Culture.
Valeria Ugazio and Lisa Fellin – Which semantics is leading the conversation? Family semantic polarities as a guide for the
choice of the therapeutic dance.
We hope to encourage discussions about the strengths and resourcefulness to be found in many different ways of working and
thinking, without this being a search for “the answer” – more one of discovering some answers amongst many possible answers
that may be ones you might want to try out and see how they fit.

I’m looking forward to it – I’ll let you know how it goes!

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