Working with Fathers, Youth and Violence in Families

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  • Working with Fathers, Youth and Violencein FamiliesThe challenges of involving fathers, children and adolescents in family therapy andintervening with family violence are perennial issues for practitioners. This issueaddresses these themes with articles on engaging fathers in family therapy for violentadolescents, the Wraparound approach to treating serious youth mental health issues,a developmental approach to child-focused family therapy and a preventive familyviolence program for African/Australian community leaders. As well there is a paperon the challenges of family therapy training in New Zealand as well as an interviewwith a veteran and sage in Australian family therapy, Moshe Lang.

    We begin with an article on Engaging Fathers in Family Therapy with ViolentAdolescents by Professor Maurizio Andolfi. Professor of Psychology at La Sapienza,University of Rome, Director of the Accademia di Psicoterapia Familiare in Rome andEditor-in-Chief of the Italian family therapy journal, Terapia Familiare, Andolfi whotrained with the likes of Minuchin, Whitaker and Haley is currently on sabbatical inPerth and conducting training workshops throughout Australia. In this interestingpaper Maurizio combines a developmental, attachment and systemic lens to argue thatadolescent violence can often signal a wider family emotional pain associated with sig-nificant stress, conflict, loss, divorce or separation, and especially paternal absence.Working at an experiential and structural family therapy level, he uses the therapeuticalliance to understand, reframe and influence adolescent violence in the family contextand to facilitate more constructive understandings, connections and boundariesbetween family members. This sensitive and challenging therapeutic work is illustratedusing transcripts of family therapy sessions with two male adolescents and their fami-lies from different cultural backgrounds. Maurizio strongly argues the case for thera-pists to take radical steps to actively engage absent or uninvolved fathers in theprocess of family therapy.

    Youth with Serious Mental Health Disorders: Wraparound as a PromisingIntervention in New Zealand is a contribution by Jacinda Shailer, Ruth Gammonand Ian de Terte of Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. The authors intro-duce Wraparound as an intensive, evidence-based, individualised, coordinated and careplanning intervention for youth with serious mental health disorders. Ten key princi-ples and four phases underpinning the Wraparound process are described and illus-trated using a case vignette. The Wraparound theory of change, its evidence-base andsome challenges of putting it into practice are also discussed. Roy Bergquist, managerof a Wraparound program for Waitemata District Health Board in Auckland, NewZealand provides a supporting commentary in response to the article.

    In their article, Is Family Therapy Including Children?, Kirsty Oehlers andRobin Shortland Jones from Curtin University, Perth, present their survey of recentchild counselling and family therapy texts and postgraduate training courses in

    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 2013, 34, 169171doi: 10.1002/anzf.1026

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    2013 Australian Association of Family Therapy 169

  • Australia. The authors were interested to determine the extent to which family thera-pists have access to updated knowledge in family therapy texts and training coursesabout child development and child-focused therapy? To their surprise the authorsfound such information was limited and they argue its need to help family therapiststo be child-inclusive and facilitate best practice interventions, which is illustrated bytwo case examples. Catherine Sanders from Bower Place, Adelaide was invited toprovide an expert commentary. This commends the authors for highlighting theneed for family therapists to consider ways to include children in family therapy,while noting the difficulties of integrating child developmental theory and systemicthinking.

    In Traditional African Mediators Program (STAMP) for Family Violence,Robin Gregory, John Bamberg, Teresa Dowd and Lindy Marlow from WesternRegion Health Centre in Melbourne, describe a program for African/Australian com-munity leaders to prevent family violence. The paper explores the challenges experi-enced by African emigrants in relation to family conflict and violence in anAustralian context. STAMP builds the capacity of African/Australian community lead-ers to provide education and interventions that promote non-violent conflict resolu-tion amongst African/Australian families. It fosters formal communication channelsbetween African/Australian community leaders and members of the justice system,such as Victoria Police and Magistrates. The authors describe a support group Marulathat helps Traditional African Mediators to address family violence within their com-munities.

    Next Challenges and Hope: Learning Family Therapy in the New ZealandContext by Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Tonya Dudson, presents an experien-tial-metaphorical account of her journey as an enthusiastic student of family therapy.Tonya describes her experience learning family therapy in the New Zealand context,where there is limited opportunity for postgraduate training amid recent political andtheoretical splits in the field. She constructs an imagined transcript of a family therapysession between a child and adolescent psychiatrist and three generations of familytherapists who are debating the merits and differences of modern and postmoderntherapy approaches. Tonya integrates multiple perspectives and discourses in a respect-ful conversation, which recognizes that family therapy always develops within theprominent epistemology of the day. Two commentaries were invited by the editor,the first from Kasia Kozlowska a fellow child and adolescent psychiatrist, who com-pares Tonyas experience to her work setting in a major Sydney Childrens Hospital.The second by Bruce McNatty from Christchurch suggests the presence of two associa-tions in New Zealand helps to put family therapy on the map and allows increasedopportunities for training and developing regional networks.

    Moshe Lang is a seminal figure in Australian family therapy well known for hismany books, articles, teaching, training and therapy with individuals, young personsand families, couples and holocaust survivors. In The Joy of Therapy: An Interviewwith Moshe Lang, Kim Bieber, a close colleague at Williams Road Psychotherapy Cen-tre, Melbourne, discusses Moshes life work and what has helped to keep him engagedand enthused over some 50 years of practicing therapy. In this intimate and informa-tive interview, Moshe shares his wisdom about the importance of relationship, con-nection, autonomy, language, time, being collaborative and playful, humorous andopen to new learning. Moshe illustrates an unbounded joy for therapy telling manysignature stories from his therapy practice. Introducing Moshes work to a new

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    170 2013 Australian Association of Family Therapy

  • generation of family therapists, the interview provides valuable insights from a sageand veteran of the field.

    The next December issue will address the important topics of supervision, trainingand learning in family therapy.

    Glenn LarnerEditor ANZJFT

    editor@anzjft.com

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    2013 Australian Association of Family Therapy 171

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