AFTA Interest Groups

Interest Groups are primarily online communities that provide an opportunity for AFTA members to gather and discuss a particular area of interest, generate new ideas, and to form a supportive community. Interest Groups are volunteer-led and have no dues or membership requirements. Many choose to meet annually at the conference for the purpose of generating conversation, rather than providing rigorous academic presentations.

New Interest Groups need to be submitted by an AFTA member with eight (8) signatures for support. To start an Interest Group, please see the Academy’s policy on Interest Groups or contact


Community-Based Programs for Families

Chairs: Martha Edwards, Anne Fishel

The focus of this interest group is on creating, implementing, and evaluating community- based programs for families. Community-based settings include schools, hospitals, clinics, shelters, social service agencies, religious institutions, prisons, and other places where families congregate and receive services. We host presentations and discussions about all aspects of family-centered program development, including conducting research with the intended participating families on what they need and desire in a program; engaging community members and other "stakeholders" as collaborators; practices to build in and stay attuned to dimensions of difference, privilege, and oppression; program interventions/formats/activities to assist families with the particular challenges of their lives; effective funding strategies; and methods of evaluation. We welcome a broad range of program foci, philosophies, and methods.

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Couples Therapy

Chairs: Corky Becker, Mona Fishbane

The Couple Therapy Interest Group has been meeting for many years, and has evolved over time. In recent years we have focused on issues of working with impasses in couple therapy, forgiveness, values and couple therapy, relational approaches to working with couples, working with affect in couple therapy, and integrating neurobiology and attachment research and theory into our work with couples.

Our format is to set a frame with brief presentations around the topic, then facilitate group discussion. The leadership of the group and decisions about future topics evolve each year and flow from our collaborative dialogue.

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Macrosystemic Assessment and Intervention

Chair: Lucas Volini

This group will explore and advance the application of our field’s rich literature in coming to understand (i.e., assess) the many societal issues at hand while informing a strategy (i.e., intervention) targeted at second-order cybernetic change (i.e., outcome). Although we’ll move beyond Freud’s focus on pathology as we venture into the complexities of systemic interactions across time.

Our format is to set a frame with brief presentations around the topic, then facilitate group discussion. The leadership of the group and decisions about future topics evolve each year and flow from our collaborative dialogue.

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Masculinities: Breaking the Male Code

Chairs: Robert Garfield, Michael LaSala

This Interest Group focuses on ideas, clinical work, and research related to men’s issues and their applicability to family therapy. We will discuss clinical issues around engaging men in individual, couples, family and group therapy. Men’s issues will be examined from a multicultural perspective taking into account class, culture, race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and the intersection these dynamics may have on the lives of men. The importance of male intimacy and friendship related to men’s individual health, relationships, and quality of life will also be addressed.

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Racial Domination and Privilege

Chairs needed

The premise of this ongoing interracial conversation is that the discourse of White supremacy permeates experience and action, and that its operations depend on one’s social location. In this conversation, we explore racial domination and privilege in our own lives, and in our conversation with you and with each other. In an atmosphere of respect, honesty, humility, and compassion, we agree to take on the risk of exploring manifestations of racial domination and privilege as they emerge in the conversation. Participants will: (1) recognize how the dominant discourse of White racial superiority in influences experience and action; (2) learn how to manage distressing emotions and stay in difficult conversation; and (3) develop new understandings of self and others when the unspoken is named and explored.

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Chair: Elisabeth Esmiol Wilson

The purpose of the Research Interest Group is to create a space where researchers can gather and share our family therapy research. We understand family therapy research to include all data driven studies utilizing qualitative and/or quantitative research methods to investigate couple, family and community problems. Our Interest Group welcomes all family therapy researchers and those interested in family therapy research. We welcome presentations from researchers about current research studies and offer a space for dialogue and collaboration regarding proposed and ongoing family research projects. Our hope is to build and support ongoing collaboration among family researchers and research organizations and to explore how we are advancing social justice perspectives through our research design and research methods.

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