In the UK, family therapy grew mainly in the statutory sector. Mainly that was in an even more limited corner, the mental health services for children and adolescence (CAMHS) in the NHS. AFT is the professional body, the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK. Context is the excellent magazine AFT publishes.
Belatedly those AFT members who had always been working in private practice and the voluntary sector formed a network: AFT Family and Systemic Psychotherapists in the Non-Statutory Sectors. The difficult acronym, AFSPinNSS, became the nickname: Aspens. Aspens was launched in 2011.
Nick Child was a passionate originator and coordinator of Aspens. So some key bits of the development can be found here on forallthat.com
A Brief History of Aspens Non-statutory Ftists previously existed but were invisible in AFT and in the UK. At the AFT UK Conference in Guildford 2005, there was a packed meeting of those interested in Voluntary and Private Sector work. But nothing happened after that ... until the experience in the voluntary sector FT team in Edinburgh's CCL (= Relate) of getting THREE fully qualified family therapists applying for the one VOLUNTARY (i.e. very poorly paid) team post. What on earth could this mean?!! Three qualified folks - though not with enough NHS background - were prepared to work for pretty much nothing?! This was not a sustainable state for a profession.
Now a campaigning driving zeal and rationale brought Aspens to life. Nick set out to network and to launch Aspens and to publish the reasons why. See the Reference list here for links to the papers. Below are some screen shots from relevant issues of Context reporting on the events mentioned as part of the Nick-ocentric track through Aspens growing up.
Systemic Means Much More (Context, Feb 2012) was NIck's “call for FT in the UK to unclip its wings .. to take our show out on less frequented roads”. This long article set out why and how: “... Family Therapy in Britain must be strong in both the NHS & the non-statutory sectors. Otherwise clients only get our help by deteriorating enough to get a ticket into the NHS. Aspens needs to be bold not bashful.”
Nick’s brief workshop Learning from America Again at Bristol (Sept 2012) pursued this theme, suggesting we could learn from across the Atlantic ... 'again' referring to how the UK had learned its family therapy originally from America mainly in the 1960s onwards. In the USA, the non-statutory sector is the main sector for all health services. MFTs (Marriage and Family Therapists) are used to setting out their stall with their own brand of therapy. Nick featured three further examples of fields that we don't do in the UK because we are stuck in a corner of the statutory sector, CAMHS in NHS: Couple therapy, Relationship education, Parental alienation
What Nick did with these ideas during 2012-17:
Aspens established (Buxton 2011), Aspens at AFT Derby conference (2013)
Nick’s plenary “On, In and Out the Box” ... meaning: out of the boxes of family therapy profession & NHS / CAMHS) - "big ideas for Britain, you CAN make changes next Monday morning when you work for yourself in the non-statutory sector, included a SWOT analysis and the metaphor of riding your own bike (rather than working much in teams).
Couple Therapy: The amazing story of how Jay Haley’s 1963 paper knocked MFT together in the USA led Nick to develop workshops for couple counsellors and family therapists in Edinburgh and then Gail Palmer coming to do a one-day EFT Conference in April 2013
Parental Alienation: “Why do we dismiss PA?” workshop at Derby (2013). Led to the SSoPA network, many other workshops and events eg AFT UK at Brighton, AFT London Oct 2014. And that led tothe alienation experience blog.
Click on the images in the gallery below to view the many highlights of Aspens development since 2011 as extracted from Context where they were all reported. Hopefully they make sense and are in some kind of order. And there is plenty more to click on here.
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