Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Efforts to Incorporate Social Justice Perspectives into a Family Training Program

Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Efforts to Incorporate Social Justice Perspectives into a Family Training Program

Article excerpt

This paper describes the efforts of the faculty of the Family Institute of New Jersey in recent years to develop a collaborative family training program that takes into account issues of gender, race, culture, class, and sexual orientation. We have come to realize how strongly traditional approaches have been skewed in the direction of the dominant culture-white, male, heterosexist, and prioritizing the needs and experience of the middle and upper classes. We have attempted to modify our teaching, supervision, reading lists, and overall training approach to challenge trainees and ourselves to move toward broader, strength-based, and equity-based multicultural perspectives in our training. We describe our vision, how we incorporate it into our program structure, and a few of our training initiatives.

The question which one asks oneself begins at last to illuminate the world, and become one's keys to the experience of others. One can only face in others what one can face in oneself. On this confrontation depends the measure of our wisdom and compassion.

James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

This paper describes our efforts at the Family Institute of New Jersey to develop a collaborative training program that takes into account issues of gender, race, culture, class, and sexual orientation. We will describe our vision, how we incorporate it into our program structure, and a few of our initiatives. We look forward to dialogue with others who are trying to expand in similar directions, in hopes that together we can progress toward more equitable training and family intervention. We have found this endeavor exciting, scary, difficult, frustrating, painful, and tremendously rewarding. We have expanded our vision from inclusion of a life cycle perspective that looked at women's and men's different social roles, to a framework that incorporates consideration of community and social influences on families as they move through time and space. We teach our students to use a very widely angled sociocultural lens that places families in the cultural, class, and gender contexts of the communities and society in which they live.

We have attempted to modify our teaching, supervision, reading lists, and overall training approach to challenge trainees and ourselves to move toward broader, strengthbased and equity-based multicultural perspectives in our family therapy training. We have come to realize how strongly traditional approaches have been skewed in the direction of the dominant culture-white, male, heterosexist, and prioritizing the needs and experience of the middle and upper classes (McGoldrick, 1998). We have rewritten our book on the Family Life Cycle (edited by Carter & McGoldrick, 1980, 1989, 1998), a core text in our program; Genograms (McGoldrick & Gerson, 1985, McGoldrick, Gerson, & Schnellenberger, 1999); and Ethnicity and Family Therapy, (McGoldrick, Pearce, & Giordono 1982, McGoldrick, Giordono, & Pearce 1996) to reflect the profound changes in our thinking about gender, race, class, and heterosexism. These efforts are works in progress, and although we are developing guidelines to help us in this difficult area and have put into practice many new initiatives, many questions remain unanswered. We believe we are at the very beginning of this transformation of training.

The Institute's Mission

It is not the individual organism that survives but the organism in the environment that gives it life. Relying on competition as a way of motivating learning eventually subverts not only cooperation but also willingness to learn. Learning is perhaps the only pleasure that might replace increasing consumption as our chosen mode of enriching experience...Ironically in our society both the strongest, those who have already succeeded, and the weakest, those who feel destined for failure, defend themselves against new learning.

Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions

Since the 1980s, but especially in the past few years, our program has become further defined and expanded in its commitment to transform traditional family therapy by moving toward the integration of feminist and cultural perspectives into training. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.