AAFT Online Conference, 30-31 October, 2021
Deisy Amorin-Woods

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent mandates, including lockdowns have impacted on us enormously as a nation, as a community, on the families and individuals we worked with and also on us personally and professionally reflected on the issues presenting for therapy and the way we conduct family therapy. As a journal we saw the need to acknowledge, respond and support our fellow family therapists working systemically during one of the most critical times of our history. Consequently, the internationally collaborative article titled “Family Therapy and COVID-19: International Reflections during the Pandemic from Systemic Therapists across the Globe” https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/anzf.1416 was published in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, and this year a special Covid-19 issue, titled “COVID-19 Systems and Families: Acknowledging Loss, Transcending Hope”  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anzf.1444 with 9 articles was published in March 2021.

The pandemic put great pressure on AAFT as an Association. While our Conference is viewed as a pivotal yearly event for our profession, a chance to gain and exchange knowledge and ideas within our industry while providing an opportunity for face- to-face networking, unfortunately the lengthy and unexpected lockdowns led to the need to review and make a number of changes and adjustments to the conference planning. Consequently, the conference plans mode of delivery evolved initially from face-to-face in Perth, to a hybrid model, to eventually a purely on-line event. Because of these changes, we missed having a conference in 2020, and instead decided to hold one this year in October 2021. Given this, during this year’s Conference, The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy had the pleasure to present two awards for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy in Australia to two highly esteemed fellows of our family therapy profession, one for 2020 and another for 2021.

The 2020 distinguished award was awarded to Aldo Gurgone, Director of the William Street Family Therapy Centre in Perth, WA. Aldo is a highly regarded Australian family and relationships therapist and clinical psychologist, who has been practising family therapy for over 40 years. Aldo established the William Street Family Therapy Centre in 1987 as a Centre for Family and Relationship Therapy and Professional Training. The centre has built a very robust standing in Western Australia over the years for both the delivery of family therapy as well as family therapy training of health professionals, having trained most of the family therapists in Perth. Due to the centre’s high reputation, as a Manager of Clinical Services of a well-known NGO in WA, I chose The William Street Family Therapy Centre for the training of all my clinical staff as we expanded to include family therapy as the suite of our therapeutic services many years ago. Aldo has contributed highly to our field supporting the state of Western Australia over the years promoting education and enhancing collaboration and collegiality among family therapists within the state. Over the years Aldo has contributed enormously to the Association and the Journal in diverse ways including with the planning of professional development events and conferences as well as co-authoring and conducting interviews with prominent family therapists. Aldo recently authored a book titled “Psychotherapy Tales: The Making of a Family Therapist” which was published in 2018. His book posits: Psychotherapy is not just something that the therapist does. Psychotherapy is a process between therapist and clients. It is something that involves a relationship between them. It requires trust, honesty, hope, resilience, belief, commitment, and preparation to work together”.

The 2021 distinguished award was bestowed upon, Italian born and world-renowned Professor Maurizio Andolfi, Master of Family Therapy and Director of the Accademia di Psicoterapia della Famiglia in Rome, Italy.

Maurizio has been residing in Perth since 2012. Maurizio’s illustrious career and global impact in the field of family therapy expands over 5 decades. While Maurizio’s original academic training is as Child Psychiatrist, he later embraced family therapy (which spoke more to his soul and the reality of the world) trained by Whitaker, Haley and Minuchin. Maurizio has been the Director of the Accademia di Psicoterapia della Famiglia (APF), Professor of Psychology at La Sapienza University, Rome Italy and Chief Editor of the Journal Terapia Familiare. He has trained family therapists from various nations through practicums, clinical internships, and summer schools and has presented extensively as keynote speaker. Maurizio is renowned for his varied published works including: The Self of the Therapist and Multigenerational Family Therapy (Andolfi, 1979, 2016, 2021; Andolfi, Ellenwood, & Wendt, 1993) and his recent written in Australia “Intergenerational Couple Therapy” (Andolfi & Mascellani, 2019). Since migrating to Australia 9 years ago, he has continued his passion to generously give to our profession by enhancing awareness about family therapy within the Australian community and therapeutic field and continuing to improve knowledge and experience of qualified family therapists. He conducts training including workshops, supervision groups as well as his diploma of multi-generational family therapy. He has received many accolades and awards for his eminent and long-standing career and contribution to the field worldwide, including the special recognition for his contribution to family therapy from the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy in 1999 and the lifetime achievement award from the American Family Therapy Association in 2016. We are privileged he can add the ANZJFT award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy in Australia to this well-deserved list.

We are joined by our national family therapy colleagues in congratulating both Maurizio and Aldo as recipients of this prestigious award and to thank them for their robust contribution to family therapy in Australia.