Join us for our 42nd Annual
Meeting and Open Conference
in Alexandria, VA
June 24-27, 2020

Hosted at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town Hotel

Days until AFTA Annual Meeting and Conference:








Politics and Systems:

Navigating Complex Relational and Global Issues

As technology, political structures, and social and environmental changes have a greater impact on families, communities and larger systems, people are faced with navigating more complex relational and global issues, such as immigration, overt forms of racism and heterosexism, oppressive regulations, and environmental changes. How do people move forward with hope, awakening change while sitting together in disruptive, and possibly healing, chaos?

Welcome, AFTA Members and Family Scholars, to #AFTA2020!

 Our 42nd Annual Meeting and Open Conference, Politics & Systems: Navigating Complex Relational and Global Issues, offers salient topics and invites critical dialogues that reflect our society’s current socio-political climate. As a professional organization that is committed to social justice, it is time we focus on repairing relational and global ruptures and enhancing our practices of relational activism to support families and communities who must navigate the brutal implications and politics that influence our relationships. 

 #AFTA2020 will infuse the AFTA community with passion, ideas, critical perspectives, science, theory, clinical interventions, and invitations to action that are focused on different ways family scholars join in navigating the larger and intimate political systems that impact our world.  

 In the midst of planning #AFTA2020, we have been faced with climate crises, oppressive immigration policies, threats of war and international unrest, political corruption, and many more historical events that reflect the abundance of social injustice in communities worldwide. This challenging political, systemic environment has only motivated the #AFTA2020 planning committee to ensure that the AFTA community has the space to engage in conversations and relationships that will allow us to recharge, become stronger and, together, continue enhancing our clinical and scholarly work to reflect safer, equitable practices, relationships, and world for all.

 We look forward to seeing you in Alexandria, Virginia at #AFTA2020!


Bryan Doster & Blanca Luco

Program Committee Co-Chairs

Program at a Glance

Welcome Reception

Remembering the Origins of Thinking and Practicing in Relational Systems: How Geopolitical Influences interfere with Socially Just Mental Health Care and Family Therapy 

Presenters: Laurel Salmon and Norbert Wetzel 

Our conversation will explore how as family therapists we seem to have moved away from the relational and holistic approach to mental health care in which couples and family therapy is philosophically grounded. Currently, the narrowly defined psychiatric diagnosis and medication model of psychotherapy that most of us are confined to dominates almost the entire mental health field, including the redesign of Medicaid for economically disadvantaged people and the clinical interventions of government financed legal and judicial institutions.  

Family systems therapy can only be revitalized by remembering its axiomatic thinking paradigms. It is essential to look at the political, socio-economic, racial and justice related basic assumptions which have shaped how we treat those who come to us for consultation. Guided by these assumptions - - which inspired the clinicians (including psychiatrists) who pioneered family therapy - - can we now expand our thinking? 

We will ask: What is the impact of Western/European thinking on our work with people in inner cities? Why are we surprised when dominant cultural models are not effective with all people? How do we make sure that we perceive and take into account the multiple oppressions that impact our clients as well as our relationships with them? How much is our relationship-focused and contexts-oriented work being dis-incentivized by our need to financially support ourselves and our clinical institutions?  

We need to re-orient our present psychotherapeutic initiatives by planting our therapeutic and our psychiatric services epistemologically in the thinking paradigms that grounded our early creative transitions into relationship-oriented, contexts-sensitive, and community involved health and mental health care services.

Hotel and Travel Information

Hilton Alexandria Old Town

Experience the reinvented Hilton Alexandria Old Town. Located in the historic, vibrant King Street neighborhood, directly across from the King Street Metro Station, our hotel is one of the most convenient hotels in Alexandria, VA for business and leisure travelers visiting Washington, DC. 
Meet us there in June!

Travel Considerations

Are you planning to attend the June board meeting on Wednesday, June 24 from 12:00-4:00pm?
Be sure to book your reservations for June 23, if you plan to arrive the day before.

Don't miss the Welcome Reception, with a historical conversation between AFTA members Laurel Salmon and Norbert Wetzel on the changing contextual landscape in family therapy and psychiatry, on Wednesday, June 24 at 5pm!
We suggest that you book your stay beginning on June 24. 

Click here to reserve your room online

or via telephone:

Reservations Local Phone: 703-837-0440

Exclusive AFTA Discount on American Airlines Flights to the Conference

AFTA Conference Attendees have access to a 4% discount on their American Airlines flights to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) or Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)!

Call AA at 800-433-1790 to book your ticket or make your reservation through

The discount code is 6160GC

*The ticket must be purchased at the time of booking- it cannot be placed on hold. Not valid for travel before 6/21/2020 and after 6/30/2020.

2020 Awards Slate


Advertise in the AFTA 2020 Conference Program!

Deadline: March 31, 2020

The American Family Therapy Academy would like to invite you and/or your organization to advertise in the Annual Conference Program. We offer multiple advertising options to fit your particular needs. 

For more information, see our Ads Pricing Sheet

*Be sure to check out the printed flyer and exhibit table options.  

 Questions? E-mail the AFTA Central Office, 

Support the 2020 Conference

The annual AFTA Conference facilitates robust dialogue for therapists committed to advancing the integration of social justice, systems theory, and family therapy practices. It brings together professionals committed to advancing family therapy research, theory, and practice that aligns with principles of justice, liberation, and equality. These professionals include students, early career therapists, and leading practitioners, researchers, and scholars in the family therapy profession.

 Your donations help fund scholarships for students from marginalized backgrounds (an expense of $250.00 per student scholarship), hotel subsidies for students and members who would not otherwise be able to attend.

 Each year this innovative and enriching conference is made possible by generous donor support from people like you. 

Call for Proposals

Proposal submissions have closed, thank you.