Volume 27 (2016)
Issue 2

Special Edition: 9th EFTA-TIC Meeting (Belgrade 2015)
    Embracing New Knowledge:

    Training for Intergrative and Innovative Systemic Practice


This is the second issue of the Human Systems Special Edition dedicated to publishing articles based on presentations and workshops at the 9th Meeting of Trainers of the European Association of Family Therapy Training Institutes’ Chamber (EFTA-TIC) held in Belgrade, Serbia in September 2015. “Embracing New Knowledge: Training for Integrative and Innovative Systemic Practice” was the theme around which a number of acknowledged trainers shared their current training explorations and applications.

We begin with a paper by Peter Stratton, Emeritus Professor at “Leeds University Family Therapy and Research Centre” in the UK and Joint Editor of Human Systems, who proposes integrating current Systemic Sciences into Systemic Therapy and Training. Peter refers to specific stimulating developments that offer novel prospects for the systemic foundations of family therapy. He focuses on Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) and it’s use in dealing with complex human situations where neither the problem nor the solution are well defined – an approach that strives for accommodating different world views and values in people’s communication. He also points out a history of ideas in Systemic Family Therapy that prepare the ground for incorporating insights from Anticipatory Systems Theory (AST) and proposes the integration of this new science that focuses on how the future determines the present. Peter then relates this process to therapy and the ways of understanding the creation of new selves, or a dialogical self, and ends by discussing possible implications for training.

 Our second paper describes work on one’s sense of self and one’s sense of belonging to wider systems during Systemic Family Therapy training. Alain Chabert shows how the “Eco Systemic Association” of Chambery, France integrates one’s sense of self in family systems therapy training. He explains how using the concept of “floating objects”, originally developed by Phillipe Caille and Yveline Rey, enables students to rid themselves of the concept of objective reality and to explore the different systems they belong to. Chabert also elaborates on the use of space that unites and simultaneously separates the members of the trainees’ group for the purpose of their personal development while respecting individual’s privacy. A presentation of the epistemology underlying this institute’s training program is provided.

Maria Laura Vittori and her Italian colleagues, from the “Center of Family and Relational Therapy” in Rome describe their work in Family Therapy Training utilizing relational and interpersonal tools. They specifically explain their application of the Structural Analysis of Social Behavior (SASB) diagnostic model in identifying behavioral patterns present in important relationships and its relevant advantage for trainees in their exploration of self and their families.

The authors also describe their incorporation of trainees’ experiential narratives from their seventh year of age and material gained through the genogram. Trainees are guided to recall their family of origin at this life stage, identify the hidden myths and relate this with their SASB diagnosis. The aim here is that the trainees develop their Professional Self while increasing awareness of their patterns and the effect their inner models have on the interaction with their patients.

Antonio Caruso and Valentina Iori then offer a clear message about the important area of sex therapy and it’s relation to training in the systemic and socio-constructivist approach of the “Panta Rei Centre” in Milan. Sexuality is here considered as emerging from the world of relationships, from the intra-individual relationship and the inter-personal relationship – that is, from within each partner and between partners – both comprising relational processing of senses, thoughts, sensations and emotional meanings.

The authors present a map of three components recursively connected: desire, pleasure and performance, each of which can serve as a context for the other two. They propose a specific scheme as a guidline for both the diagnostic phase and the therapeutic process, one that organizes the psychotherapist’s explorations and consequent interventions. A detailed description of the model and its application to therapy and training is provided.

In their sex therapy training, participants are motivated to experientially learn through exercises that are similar to the techniques used with clients. By reflecting on their own sexuality, trainees are directly immersed into the practises they will be using and, so, are seen as activating their potential for ‘other-vision’ and empathy. Moreover, Caruso and Iori set up sexual therapy, not as a reparative or deficit therapy, but, rather, as a sexual development therapy, a vision that is mirrored throughout their training process.

Grazhina Budinaite and Maria Zelenskaya report on a research project focusing on the perception of balanced and unbalanced families as experienced by adolescents in Russia and compared to these of adolescents in America, France and South Korea.

Their investigation applied the Olson’s Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES) to 108 students in their school setting. Scoreswere obtained both for adolescents’ views for real and ideal families. The authors raise important questions with respect to what can be evaluated as a functional family for adolescents’ development, and shed light on the importance of understanding cultural context so as to appreciate differences in family structure and dynamics and, consequently, avoid defining them as “dysfunctional”.

The last paper in this issue is by Phoebe Prosky, Founder of the “Freeport Counseling Center” in the U.S. who refers to the shift in the therapy field away from interconnection to a focus on the individual. She proposes a way in which systemic therapy can reassert itself in order to claim its justifiable central position and bring the field into line with an ecological understanding of human behavior. Prosky directs our attention to Buddhism as a very early philosophy of interconnectedness that can extend the systemic practitioner’s understanding and lead to the expansion of the therapist’s capacity for compassion. She examines the commonalities between family systems therapy and Buddhism and suggests combining epistemologies of the two fields in training. This paper is made more vivid by Prosky’s offering of traditional stories and sayings. In the ever-changing and unpredictable Western world that fosters disconnection, the integration of the Buddhist philosophy particularly in the systemic training of future therapists, is here seen as an essential progress.

Kyriaki Polychroni
Joint Editor

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Peter Stratton Integrating Current Systemic Sciences into Systemic Therapy and Training: Soft and Anticipatory Systems Theories  101-118 Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Alain Chambert Work on One’s Sense of Self and One’s Sense of Belonging to Wider Systems During Training in Family Systems Therapy: Using the Concept of a Path of Floating Objects 111-118 Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Maria Laura Vittori, Olivia Pagano & Rita Accettura “Be In Your Best Way”: Working In Family Therapy Training With Relational And Interpersonal Tools 119-138 Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Antonio Caruso & Valentina Iori Sex in Therapy: How to Teach Sex Therapy through a Systemic and Socio-Constructivist Approach 139-152 Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Grazhina Budinaite & Maria Zelenskaya What Are Balanced and Disbalanced Families in Perception of Russian Adolescents  153-167 Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
Phoebe Prosky From Systems Theory to Compassion: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind  169-178 Access Abstract (Free) Access Fulltext 
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