The American Family Therapy Academy is an organization of approximately 800 leading national and international family therapy educators, researchers, clinicians, program directors, and policy makers dedicated to advancing systemic and social constructionist theory, research, and practice for families in their communities and larger social contexts. AFTA membership includes: pioneers, innovators, recognized leaders, and emerging leaders who blend their ideas, practices, and passions within organizational collegiality.
Why Join AFTA [pdf]
AFTA Members represent a wide diversity of professional disciplines, geographic locations, conceptual and personal orientations. Requirements for membership are essentially a terminal professional degree, five years of post degree clinical experience working with families and five years of experience teaching family therapy or performance of significant research in the field of family therapy or in an allied field. Members are expected to hold a terminal professional degree in a health or mental health related field (subject to evaluation by the membership committee) or an advanced degree in one of the social or behavior sciences. Early Career Membership (ECM) is also open to those with two years of significant post-graduate teaching, research, or other scholarly or professional work and a nomination from an AFTA Member. And in June 2007, a Student Membership Pilot Project was created for promising students or post-graduates who do not yet meet the criteria for Early Career Membership. Read more about Criteria for Membership.
I was invited to be a charter member of AFTA by John Pearce. It has been my home base ever since. I have never missed a meeting. AFTA seems to me the home base of all for whom thinking “systems” is the center of their clinical lives. I love the new people, the old people and the people in the middle. We have worked hard to make AFTA more responsive to voices which until recently have been invisible in our field and families that have not been served by the mental health and health care field. The fact that AFTA is multi-disciplinary and organized around the ideas on which to base our research, theory and clinical practice is central to my commitment to the organization. I have grown “old” with AFTA- well, “older,” since I still don’t think of myself as old, but just “maturing.” And I have great hopes that AFTA will be the organization that will keep the power of systems thinking alive and well as we must transform our healthcare field in the years to come. AFTA is still the richest group alive for anyone who is trying to think systems in our field.
- Monica McGoldrick, M.A., LCSW, Ph.D. (h.c.), Director, Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, NJ, and on Psychiatry Faculty of the RWJ Medical School.
The feeling of being a stranger in a foreign land became the organizing principle of my existence since I came to this country from Colombia in my early twenties. As an immigrant, I have become an expert in detecting gestures, words and behaviors that confirm my experience of invisibility. Because of the pervasiveness of these dynamics, I protect myself with a healthy cover of skepticism when I join any effort that proclaims inclusiveness. That was my mind set when I presented in the AFTA conference last year. I was not only a person of color in a mostly white organization but I was also showing my clinical work to “the cream of the crop” in systemic thinking. As anyone can imagine, it was an exhilarating and also very frightening experience. I kept my self-protective defenses in place for a while but I did not take long to recognize that I was feeling included, accepted and respected; that not only I was visible but also that my voice was heard in the larger dialogue of the organization. I want to thank every for such a warm and sincere welcome. Because of this incredible experience, I joined AFTA this year, with the support of Hinda Winawer, the person who helps me balance self-protection and openness to change. Thank you, Hinda.
- Gloria Lopez-Henriquez, MA, LMSW, LCSW, is an Early Carrier Member since 2007. Child and family clinician at Morristown Memorial Hospital and second year extern, Ackerman Institute for the Family.
To me, a Founding Member of AFTA, AFTA will irrevocably be linked to the core of family therapy and family systems thinking. When I started out in the middle 1970’s, the field was incredibly vital and dynamic. Family therapy was the cutting edge in thinking about human behavior and psychotherapy. One of the things that accounted for that vitality was that family therapy was interdisciplinary—it brought people and ideas together from clinical psychology, psychiatry, social work, pediatrics and nursing. It brought researchers together with clinicians and educators. No single discipline owned the field. Today AFTA still represents what is best about family therapy. It provides the only truly interdisciplinary context for family therapists from around the world to get together and share ideas and develop relationships. It has no organizational axe to grind and no institutional allegiance. It is as open to arguments against family therapy as it is to arguments for family therapy. One of the most wonderful things about AFTA is its size. It is small enough that people can get to know each other in an intellectually and sometimes personally intimate context. It is also a context that cares in that it realizes that our ideas and interventions are only as good as we are as people. It is not only a context for the exchange of ideas and techniques, but also for personal connection and development. Lastly, AFTA cares about all families from all walks of life. Its broad arms strive to embrace families from around the world in all their multiplicity and complexity.
- Bill Pinsof, Ph D., President, Family Institute at Northwestern University, Director of The Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies and Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University.
When I started teaching at the Ackerman Institute, Martha Edwards asked me to join AFTA. Beyond the outstanding academy of leaders I soon discovered a welcoming group of deliciously warm and humorous people! I will never forget when Don-David Lusterman came to hug me after I spoke on a panel about transgender couples. He looked at me with teary eyes and said that our work reminded him of the reasons why AFTA had been created to begin with. Needless to say, I left crying as well! As an Early Career Member, I felt taken in as a peer and mentored by generations of wisdom all at once. To me, this tapestry of interwoven excellence in systemic work and profound trust in human resilience is what makes AFTA unique. AFTA felt like a home to my aspirations, a place where the field takes shape, where people debate, politicize, contextualize and never cease to share their passion for people, for progress and healing. As a white gay man, I felt that social justice was not an after-thought. I joined the LGBT interest group and have a community where to examine how racism, whiteness and heterosexism inform my life, teaching and practice. As a psychologist trained both in Belgium and in the United States I hold multicultural collaborations in high esteem and am delighted that AFTA conferences integrate American discourses with international voices. I hope you too will share our warmth and determination and soon join the people of AFTA.
- Jean Malpas, LMFT, LMHC, is an Early Career Member since 2006; He is on the faculty, Ackerman Institute for the Family and is a psychotherapist in private practice in NYC.
People of AFTA [pdf]: In their own words