Therapy is never practised in a vacuum. Workers must always consider their agency context when applying any models of working, especially when that model introduces a substantial difference into the agency’s habitual mode of practice. In 1975 Jay Haley argued that it was a fundamental error to adopt a family therapy approach in an agency that used other models of working. He proposed exclusivity in the form of separate family therapy agencies. By 1982 over 300 private institutions of family therapy had emerged in the USA. In the UK, however, private practice has not mushroomed to the same extent.
In 1985 there had been significant contributions from both sides of the Atlantic describing the practice of family therapy in public institutions: Bentovim, Gorell Barnes, and Cooklin (1982); Treacher and Carpenter (1984); Berger and Jurkovic (1984) and Campbell and Draper (1985). In the foreword to Berger and Jurkovic, Haley states that the book addresses a major issue in the therapy field: ‘what to do about the social systems that impinge on the family-oriented therapist’ (Berger and Jurkovic 1984:ix). The past decade has thus seen a movement away from exclusivity in favour of the use of family therapy in public sector agencies. Within the public sector there exists a heterogeneous collection of agencies. Some are more able to adopt an openly therapeutic role where the practitioners may legitimately call themselves therapists. Other agencies perform multiple functions and therapy is accorded low priority.