Clinician's Digest


Clinician's Digest

By Garry Cooper

January/February 2010


The embarrassing spectacle of a national therapy organization publicly unable to resolve a bitter internal conflict cast a shadow over the annual convention of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) during its October meeting in Sacramento, California. Since last spring, three groups of protesters—MFTers for Change, Call for Change (CFC), and the New Jersey division of the organization—have been raising questions about the direction of AAMFT, claiming that the national leadership has become isolated from its members, has lost the original vision of the organization, and has failed to promote public awareness of the distinctive clinical perspective and relational skills of MFTs, while stifling dissent within the organization. They're calling for an independent audit to look closely at governance and finances and the operating culture that's been put in place by long-time Executive Director Michael Bowers, with many calling for Bowers's resignation.

Prior to the convention, the national office of AAMFT had threatened legal action against several CFC members for using the national listserv to e-mail members a letter of grievances. At the annual conference, the protesters were denied meeting space at the convention center. Further, AAMFT cancelled the town hall meeting, a natural venue for bringing up concerns about the organization. While AAMFT had promised all members a chance to speak at the business meeting, scheduled from 7:00 to 9:00…

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