Article by Glenn Larner, Editor ANZJFT
Recently for a laugh, I asked ChatGPT what would help to raise the profile of Family Therapy in Australia and received back an incredibly detailed map, which I have adapted and shared for your interest below. I have included a few comments of my own in italics in response to some of the recommendations and invite others to contribute to what may become an evolving conversation.
According to ChatGPT raising the profile of family therapy in Australia would require a number of strategies to increase awareness, education and collaboration within the field including the following:
1. High Quality Education and Training Programs provided by universities and institutions to attract more professionals to the field and improve the quality of service.
Thankfully there are quality programs available in most states including NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.
2. Public Awareness campaigns to highlight the benefits of family therapy including websites, social media outreach and informative videos about real life stories and successes.
3. Collaborate with other professionals including medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other healthcare providers to integrate family therapy into overall treatment plans, which can help top establish family therapy as a valuable and integral part of mental health care.
Certainly, like many others in our profession this is something I have strongly argued for over the years (e.g., Larner, 2003).
4. Need to promote and find funding for research in family therapy to establish its effectiveness and benefits and evidence-base.
As we know there is wealth of evidence-based literature supporting the effectiveness of family therapy out there (e.g., the regular reviews by Alan Carr (2016a; 2016b; 2018 and others). Also, encouragingly the Australian Psychological Society in its review of evidence-based psychological strategies includes family therapy as a first line intervention for a range of mental health issues (APS, 2018;2022). Unfortunately, this is not yet reciprocated by Medicare where couple and family therapy as such are not funded for private practitioners.
5. The need to strengthen Professional Associations and Networking to organise conferences, workshops and seminars that bring practitioners together to exchange ideas and invite other mental health professionals to be part of the conversation.
6. Advocate to include family therapy services in public health programs and for insurance coverage. Engage with policymakers to emphasize the importance of family therapy in promoting mental and emotional well-being.
Here speaking as a clinical psychologist, the very effective approach provided by the Australian Psychological Society in promoting psychology in the public and professional arenas comes to mind as an effective model to emulate.
Another question is how we acknowledge and connect to various organisations like the Department of Communities and Justice that have adopted and rolled out prescribed evidence-based interventions like Functional Family Therapy and Multisystemic Therapy for community welfare organisations across the country.
7. Collaborate with community organisations, schools, and local agencies to provide family therapy services in various settings.
8. Offer training in culturally sensitive and diverse family therapy practices to make sure the field is inclusive and relevant across the population.
9. Engage with various media by sharing interviews, articles and stories that provide information about and highlight the benefits of family therapy.
10. Offer ongoing professional development opportunities for family therapists to help practitioners stay updated with the research, approaches, theories, models and techniques.
This is offered on an ongoing basis by various training institutes and through organisations like AAFT. However, as a spinout from Covid etc we have sorely missed the annual conference for several years now.
11. Develop an online presence through blogs, websites, podcasts and resources etc.
12. Showcase positive outcomes through client testimonials and case studies to help the public understand the value of family therapy.
I presume this could occur in the media and it does in the In-Practice section of ANZJFT where the focus is a practitioner case study.
As a conclusion I would like to note that ChatGPT warns raising the profile of family therapy in Australia is a long term and multifaceted effort that requires collaboration and persistence.
So, there you have it. It would be interesting to hear what you all think?
What did the community think? Feedback below.
APS (2018). Evidence-Based Psychological Interventions in the Treatment of Psychological Disorders: A Review of the Literature. Australian Psychological Society. Fourth Edition.
APS (2022). Position Statement: Evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence in psychology. June. The Australian Psychological Society, Melbourne, Australia.
Carr, A. (2016a). How and Why Do Family And Systemic Therapies Work? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 37:37-55.
Carr, A. (2016b). Family Therapy for Adolescents: A Research-Informed Perspective. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 37:467-479.
Carr, A. (2018). Family therapy and systemic interventions for child‐focused problems: the current evidence base. Journal of Family Therapy, https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12226
Communities and Justice (2018): Protecting our Kids: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/families/support-programs/protecting-our-kids/protecting-our-kids.
Larner, G. (2003). Integrating family therapy in child and adolescent mental
health practice: an ethic of hospitality. Australian and New Zealand Journal of
Family Therapy, 24:211-219.