Message from the Executive Director

Mother Theresa once said, “The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family.”

That poignant piece of advice continues to hold true. Yet, the plethora of complex treatment issues combined with barriers to service, makes treating a family very challenging indeed.

In today’s world, families must heal from a wide variety of traumas ranging from violence to substance abuse to severe mental health issues. Children, regardless of culture, are increasingly exposed to tragedy and events that once upon time were reserved only for nightmares. Today, horrifying societal and familial events are almost daily news bytes.

No longer can someone traditionally trained to work with individuals, without considering the complex system of issues, relationships, and environments, begin to competently deliver services to a three-generation family, born and raised in different cultures, and dealing with violence in the schools, PTSD and other severe mental health conditions – all within the singular family. This level of difficulty calls for special training, education and research related to the increased complications in family treatment.

As systemic practitioners, looking at the individuals and their environment as a whole, family therapists have a deeper understanding of family systems, awareness and appreciation for cultural context, and the training to promote healing in the context of one’s system.

But even that is not enough. Policies and initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to family therapy. Stigma should not be a barrier. Access to care should not be a barrier. Access to competently trained family therapists should not be a barrier.

The AAMFT Research & Education Foundation focuses on innovative ideas and strategies enhancing the effectiveness of family therapy and projects that will remove barriers to treatment. The Foundation, by working with partners and focusing on these big goals, can help families heal from tragedy and begin to help heal the world. With your help, we can have stronger and healthier families.

Thank you for your support.

Tracy Todd, PhD
Executive Director