AFT Conferences

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2018 AFT conferences (see the events page of the website for more information and to book)

- Making a difference in Wales on Thursday 15th February 2018 at Cardiff University Conference Centre, only £30

- AFT Conference 2018 in association with Manchester AFT, Thursday 13th and  Friday 14th September with optional Wednesday evening.

In thinking about Manchester as the location for the 2018 AFT conference we were struck by its proud tradition of struggle for political and social change in terms of women’s suffrage, the co-operative movement, the Trades Union Congress which was initiated in the North based on a perception that the London Trades Council was too dominant in speaking for the whole Trade Union Movement – an interesting historical echo chamber perhaps for the evolution of the region’s identity as a modern day Northern Powerhouse.
Marx and Engels based their ideas about social relationships, economic and health inequalities and class identity on observations of factory workers in the city in the mid-19th century and how we are located in society and where we are from remains central to our sense of who we are. The title of our Manchester conference – D/evolving Identities – connects up the theme of Identity and ‘what’s in a name’ with concepts of power and change. Current social and political changes in terms of Brexit, devolution from Westminster, privatisation of public institutions hinge on questions such as whether it is better to stand alone with our own distinct identity and have the power to make decisions in the best interests of the nation, region, profession or is there more we have in common to bind us across communities, cultures, faiths, economic boundaries, manualised therapy approaches. The theme of identity connects with notions of ‘belonging’ and ‘home’.
Maybe it depends on who ‘WE’ are as to how each of us draws the line around who ‘I AM’: British / European, Northern / Southern, accredited / unaccredited, gender specific / gender neutral. Our collective and personal identities are socially constructed and a contested space. The drawing and re-drawing of lines may depend on where we are and who we are in conversation with. These acts of positioning and being positioned are both deeply political – with a small ‘p’ - and deeply personal.

On a personal level it could be argued that the most profound experience is to be known and accepted. However else we might describe our identity this is what makes us feel secure in it. We might have grown this secure sense of self in early relationships or it might be part of our life’s work. We do this work – sometimes in therapy - with a political and cultural overlay of what constitutes a ‘good person’. Speaking who we are is therefore a political act.

The issue of what it means to be able to say where you are from, where you live, who you are in an intimate relationship with, whether you are physically or mentally well is a matter both for political protest and for the therapeutic relationship. Rufus May, a Psychologist who speaks from personal experience about hearing voices, calls for ‘fear free spaces’ – as therapists the space we have some influence over is the clinic room. While we aspire to make this ‘fear free’ it also remains a contested space. We try to work collaboratively within systems that devolve relatively little power and autonomy. We question how known can someone be through a checklist? Does paying for help give you more sway over your identity as a patient, client or customer? If your sense of self depends on how coherent the story is that you are able to tell what conditions do we need to create and what actions do we need to take to confront shame, contempt, marginalisation…. Can we practice ethically without taking a look at how we decide which aspects of our identity we reveal and to whom? What part do we play as clinicians in shaping the identities of people we work with and what ways do we have to talk about both the visible and less visible aspects of identity?

We welcome workshop submissions and papers from a range of work, supervisory and training contexts looking at the impact of life events such as diagnoses or displacement and at the experience of difference from the dominant culture on personal and professional identities and how we respond to these relationally. You may work in a clinic room or community centre, within a public organisation or in private practice with a range of clients - children who are fostered, adopted, born by IVF or looked after by the Local Authority, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, people living with physical or mental illness, who hear voices, have eating disorders, people who are homeless, have dementia, people with sensory impairment, physical or learning disabilities, people diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, reconstituted families, people who've experienced domestic violence, homophobia ...............  

We are interested in the idea of what's in a name - client / consumer, gender fluid / gender neutral for example - and how power operates in the defining and shaping of identity at different levels of context. We are also interested in the more and less visible aspects of identity and how these aspects influence our work. We would like the proposals to show how the voices of clients and family members will be heard alongside the professional narrative.

We are also interested in Research symposia papers. We are keen to hear from Family and Systemic Psychotherapists and Systemic Practitioners at any stage of their research journey. We would be keen to hear from you if you are involved in evaluation and/or research that includes the voice of the service user and/or the experience and impact on the identity of the researcher. We are hoping to host a number of presentations between 15 and 30 minutes.

We hope you are inspired to contribute to conference.  If so please complete our workshop submission form.

We look forward to receiving your submission by the deadline of 22 January 2018  - extended to 30 January 2018.

Further thoughts from Manchester AFT on Manchester, please download here.

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