The excerpt below from Family Therapy Magazine is by Laurie Charles, co-presenter of one of the workshops chosen for AAMFT16. Interested in this topic and many others featuring the latest clinical issues in the field of marriage and family therapy? Explore the workshops and register here for AAMFT16 in Indianapolis, IN on September 15-18.
While the content of what I deliver as a family therapy trainer in different countries is often similar, my method of delivery changes considerably from place to place. Like client families, trainee groups are really unique in their dynamics, and those unique dynamics are also totally dependent on context. As in therapy, I can plan ahead for how the training might proceed, but when I arrive in Tripoli, on the ground with 42 Arabic speaking family therapy trainees in post-conflict Libya, I have to negotiate what I planned to deliver with the unfolding dynamics of the training group I have just met and the presenting context in which they are living and working.
While family therapists may have skills that enhance the capacity to contextualize the suffering of the clients, supervisees, or trainees we work with, in global mental health one must be able to do this in relation to the broader political and economic factors in the country (Batniji, Van Ommeren, & Saraceno, 2005; Zarowsky, 2004). And it is here where family therapists need “scaling up.” Preparing U.S.-based family therapy trainees to work effectively as systemic family therapy clinicians in humanitarian relief contexts requires a shift from the nationalist focus of traditional family therapy training toward one that has a critically global lens (Platt & Laszloffy, 2010).
In training groups, I am still very conscientious about my social location (my intersectionality and identities such as gender, nationality, education and economic status, race and ethnicity, religion, ability) but must have heightened focus on how intersectionality is performed and discussed (or not) within the training group. That is because while my background may be interesting to the group for a variety of reasons, what I find is that usually I am irrelevant, because I am an outsider. What becomes more important, as in a family session, is to observe how individuals interact and perform their intersecting roles with each other, and to build on the capacity of what I see and hear. This is complex because the trainings are intense, in multiple languages besides English, and because the training group are citizens living in a highly dynamic country situation, which is often reflected in the training dynamics. My qualitative research skills of participant observation and attention to nuances of dialogue and personal expression are critical in this regard.
407 Family Therapy in Global Humanitarian Contexts
Laurie Charlés, Catalina Perdomo. Deborah Healy, Daisy Ceja, Kathryn Dunne, Kotia Witaker
This workshop will focus on critical issues specific to the practice of family therapy within the humanitarian sphere. Presenters offer practical information and content specific to the training, supervision, and delivery of systemic family-based services where human rights and humanitarian intervention are part of the context, with a focus on making this work accessible across a variety of settings. Register
Laurie L. Charlés, PhD, has taught family therapy content, performed qualitative rapid needs assessments, and supervised and trained psychiatrists, psychosocial workers, and family therapists for programs in Kosova, Syria, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Burundi, Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Egypt, and the U.S. She is currently a Consultant with the World Health Organization, Ebola Outbreak Response, Conakry, Guinea, and is a full time assistant professor at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX. A former U.S. Senior Fulbright Scholar (Colombo, Sri Lanka 2010-2011), Charlés is a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor of AAMFT, a Board Member of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA ) and chair of its Publications Committee.