Family Therapy in the ACT

Annette Coulter | ACT State Representative
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In the 1980’s and 1990’s there was a small but vibrant Family Therapy community in the ACT. In the second half of the 80’s government mental health practitioners had two family therapy teams running and practitioners from the ANU counselling centre, Marriage Guidance Canberra & Region, Centacare and the private sector were involved in the community.  Marriage Guidance Canberra & Region ran a year-long training course in couple therapy and the Canberra College of Advanced Education ran a post-graduate family therapy unit which continues to run today at the University of Canberra. Several well-known visiting family therapists such as Lyn Hoffman, Steve DeShazer and Insoo Berg, Paul Gibney, Michael White, Kerrie James and Malcolm Robinson provided workshops in Canberra. The Australian Association of Relationship Counsellors had a branch meeting regularly and there was a local family therapy association which hosted the Australian Family Therapy Conference in 1993.

By 2005 things had changed significantly. Narrative Therapy and Solution Focused Brief Therapy had both split off from Family Therapy and become popular in a number of community agencies. Whilst Family Therapy was, and still is, practiced by a few practitioners in private practice and in a few community agencies, there was no longer a focus on this way of working in the professional community.

In 2006 and 2007 the Karuna Centre formed The Systemic/Narrative Network.  Six weekly meetings were held and were initially well attended. Over a year or so the meetings dwindled and then stopped.

In 2018, with the support of the AAFT, it is envisaged that Family/Systemic Therapy will begin to re-emerge  in the ACT.