Often, when adopting a new approach, practitioners will be keen to apply novel techniques in their work without considering the concomitant effects on their work setting. The introduction of a new idea or different way of working into an agency can be viewed systemically as triggering a series of transitional stages in that agency system. Successful integration depends only partly on an individual worker’s enthusiasm to read about, rehearse, and implement techniques. Agency traditions are explicitly or implicitly challenged in many areas of the working context. Relationships between staff members may undergo redefinitions based on differing attitudes towards a new way of working. Existing alliances may be broken and new ones formed. Coalitions can develop that lead to secrecy and destructive rivalries. These factors need to be considered and dealt with carefully if newly learnt skills and proposals for changing working practice are to have a reasonable chance of being adopted by an agency. Strategies for introducing clients, colleagues, and management to a new approach are vital for its survival and development.
Held (1982), analysing this process from the perspective of a family therapist arriving in an agency, advises against being seen as a ‘new broom’ and thereby creating antagonism and resentment in established staff members. This chapter considers the position of practitioners attempting to integrate a systemic approach into the agency they work in. Although specific agencies are considered the lessons are generally applicable.