Volume 19 (2009)

Special Volume
Personal and Professional Development in Training


This full volume of Human Systems relaunches the journal through its new associations with the Athenian Institute of Anthropos in Greece. We felt that it would be most true to the current values of systems science to start the Editorial with a conversation between the joint editors Kyriaki Polychroni (KP) and Peter Stratton (PS). In the recorded conversation we talked about the origins of our collaboration, the changes we have made to Human Systems and our hopes for the future of the journal.

 KP: OK. I’d like to begin by sharing once again with you, Peter, that I am very excited to be representing the Anthropos Institute in its joining LFTRC and KCCF in publishing Human Systems. It is an honour for us to be on board. We feel that co-creating this journal with you has meaning for us as an Institute at this stage in its development. We hope to both actualize your experience from publishing the journal over the years and also to bring in our experience from the field of systems science and practice.

 PS: That’s great. And equally we are excited both about the chance to collaborate with Anthropos and with you and Petros. This collaboration is establishing the Journal much more clearly as having a European dimension - we are pretty well each at one end of Europe. There is more than one dimension to Europe, but geographically at least; we can call it both ends of Europe, between the UK and all the way to Greece.

 KP: Also, very significant is that through this new collaboration a lot of important colleagues from throughout Europe and overseas have now joined in on the Editorial Advisory Board.

 PS: I think our readers will be able to see from the listing of the Advisory Board what a prestigious and international group have joined to support Human Systems.  I think it is the connection we two have made that has given impetus for this broader representation. An impetus which came to strengthen the Editorial Advisory Board for Europe and also internationally – in the US and Canada. For Human Systems this was already strong, but through our connecting we are now able to strengthen the international scope of the Editorial Advisory Board.

 KP: I’d like to refer a little more to what you said about ‘our connecting’. I remember that we met in June 2000, when the European Family Therapy Association Training Institutes Chamber - at that time only a small forum of Institutes - had its first meeting in Brussels. When we formed small working groups, we chose to work with each other and since that time we have continued to work closely together – 8 years now.

 PS: Yes, that’s right.

 KP:  Our collaboration in EFTA-TIC has developed, I feel, into a creative collegial relationship. I have come to very much value this. You and I have given a lot of our time and energy in trying to evolve the Chamber. I think it’s indicative that the papers of this relaunch issue are based on the workshops that were presented within the context of the 3rd EFTA-TIC Trainers’ Meeting in Rhodes. This is a satisfying outcome.

 PS: It was also, for me, the experience of working with you in TIC that has given us a way of working together, creatively. It’s very nice the way TIC has functioned, with the development of the Conferences and the success of the Rhodes Meeting, all making a basis for getting together on Human Systems as well, which is something that actually goes beyond TIC for the both of us.

So, yes, I think the history of TIC has given us a shared basis for working together, for collaborating. Moreover, this has turned into Human Systems becoming something we can take forward together, knowing from our manner of cooperation that we can make things happen. The task though is very different; it is a major thing to be co-producing a journal.

 KP: I find this challenging.

Now, another aspect that is meaningful for me in this 1st volume that as Anthropos we are a part of, is that it is on the theme of “Personal and Professional Development in Training”. As you know, developing the self of the therapist is a theme which Anthropos has very much stressed in its training from the late 60’s, from the birth of the Institute. At that time and for a number of years to follow, respected colleagues in the field actually looked upon us as somewhat “strange” in our determination to emphasize this as the major dimension in training. For me, it is of historical importance that we are starting off our collaboration on such a theme, a theme which has now become so important in our field.

 PS: That’s an important point.

A different aspect I want to bring in now while we are talking about history is that Human Systems grew out of collaboration between two Training Institutes - between the KCC Foundation and the LFTRC. So, it has always been an Institute driven journal. Most journals are either produced by one place or belong to an academic organization or association. Human Systems now developing into the collaboration of three Training Institutes is very much staying true to its roots as a Training Institute driven journal.

 KP: I find that an important point, Peter. And, at the same time, it’s growing…

 PS: Yes, growing as roots do. I think that is part of what we have in common: that Training Institutes should be the “hotbed” of ideas. It’s Training Institutes that have to make the new ideas work, turn them into a form that trainees can be inducted into. Otherwise these ideas are just “out there”. By getting the feel through the Training Institutes, it gives us a hotline for those ideas that are actually going to work in practice for the field.

 KP: I can appreciate that. This is a major reason why we joined in, that this is an Institute driven journal. At the same time, I am very happy that, although, it is Institute driven, our collaboration has enough flexibility to open up to other areas, to what is happening in the world today and how things have developed over time. In this sense, the journal used to be called “Human Systems: The Journal of Systemic Consultation and Management” and now we are differentiating it to “Human Systems: The Journal of Therapy, Consultation and Training”. We so aim to encompass and embrace developments that are specific in our ever changing reality. It is very important that we are trying to open up to ideas dealing with realms such as complexity theory, sustainable communities and other applications of systems science in general.

 PS: Yes, it is. As Training Institutes, we have the responsibility to open up to as many areas, as many competencies, as many ideas as possible. I mean, it is the job of Training Institutes to make sure we are tapping into the value of other areas. One of my concerns is that we should be getting the benefit of Systemics in a much broader way. Family Therapy has carried on with a basic definition of Systems and has continued to develop very effective ways of working. But, others have decided they have outgrown the systems orientation and, rather than bring in new systemic concepts and techniques, have developed ways of working that do not easily connect to the mainstream of systemic family therapy. I think the whole field would be strengthened by getting the benefit of the wider systems’ understanding of what has been developing over the decades.

 KP: Exactly, trying to grasp useful ideas from areas where systems science is becoming a view of life rather than just being a therapeutic approach.

 PS: That’s just one of a number of things that make this a really exciting time to be in our field. There is much talk about psycho-analytic ideas, cognitive ideas, attachment theory taking on brain development, a whole variety of areas that people are excitedly bringing in.

 KP: At the same time, social sciences are influencing the field. For example, how the Systems view of sustainable relationships and communities in today’s ever increasing complexity of global change can influence the way we offer services.

 PS: Yes and how Systemic Therapy can utilize findings from work or research on developing cultural sensitivity and appreciation of difference and so on. So that we know more about what to do when cultural differences are present.

 KP: Particularly in Europe which is now completely on the move in terms of cultural migration.

 PS: Yes.

 KP: So then, we have our hands full, Peter, if we want to materialize this vision of keeping our roots and at the same time “grafting new shoots”...

 PS: We definitely cannot do it on our own.

 KP: No.

 PS: We need to call upon people who are in touch with these developments to write up on their experience. It’s again one of the historical strengths of Human Systems. It has always given a lot of space for people to report their ways of using ideas, always focusing on the practical application of ideas. I don’t want to say anything to diminish the other journals in the field, but this is one of the things that make our journal fairly unique.

 KP: I knew this before coming on board and it is one of the main reasons why I always found the journal so interesting.

Also, special to me as a reader was that you get the feeling – and I hope we can elaborate on this in the volumes to come – that you join in on a conversation, in the sense that, in Human Systems, you can be part of a co-creating process. We want to remain open to suggestions and proposals from people, rather than just having our way of running a journal.

 PS: Yes. Maybe it is worth saying that it was an aspiration from the start, although we have not managed to make it as interactive as we wanted. This relaunch is an opportunity to say that we do need people to join us in this. We cannot be collaborative just by telling people to be collaborative.

 KP: No. We need to call upon...

 PS: Call upon their ideas and active participation.

 KP: Yes. One of the ways may be through our decision to each year have one issue dedicated to a specific theme. If colleagues have ideas regarding particular themes they think should be developed in the journal, we are open to hearing them. Also, we’re eager for people to suggest how they can help in producing these special issues.

 PS: Some of the most successful volumes or issues have originated in this way. Someone who knows a theme particularly well may persuade a good group to contribute, sometimes in a structured way, making clear what the objectives are in the particular issue and, then, bring it together. It is a wonderful opportunity for people to do this.

 KP: The other way we hope to get colleagues involved is that we are going to try and set up a group that will translate abstracts into a number of different languages so that it can be genuinely multicultural. That is, to have the translated abstracts of each article included in a final section of each issue, so that people who don’t speak English very well may look at abstracts and select to read those articles which they feel are important to them.

 PS: Yes, I think that’s important to inform our readers especially about contributions that may be most relevant to them and, so, they can contact the authors directly.

 KP: And hopefully, Peter, with the construction of the Human Systems webpage, we will be able to further develop the interactive nature of the journal.

 PS: OK, having said that maybe we can move on to referring to the 3rd EFTA-TIC Meeting of Trainers in Rhodes, 2006, as the context within which the articles published in this relaunch were presented.

 KP: Well, this was the 3rd meeting in a series of meetings exclusively for trainers of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice, organized yearly by the European Family Therapy Association Training Institutes’ Chamber (EFTA-TIC). In Rhodes, 81 trainers participated, representing 48 Institutes from 19 different European countries. So as to mutually learn from each other, all presentations were in the form of interactive workshops. I think it is fair to say, Peter, that we all left this meeting having experienced it as being a success, having exchanged both scientifically and humanly.

 PS: Yes, the meeting was in the positive tradition of EFTA-TIC events in providing a forum in which trainers can share new ideas and current concerns in order to start new dialogues. The feedback showed just how positively the meeting was viewed by the participants. I think that the papers selected from that meeting, and then written up as journal articles for this Volume indicate the vibrancy of family therapy training across Europe; the value for all trainers of drawing on the experience and creativity of their colleagues internationally; and the important role that EFTA-TIC is playing in the development of high quality of training.

 Peter Stratton and Kyriaki Polychroni,
Joint Editors

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Editorial Peter Stratton & Kyriaki Polychroni 4-9 Editorial 
In Memoriam of Vasso Vassiliou Kyriaki Polychroni 10-12 Memoriam 
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