Concern 1: Providing opportunities. AFTNC used to be in the business of providing many of these opportunities. Since the recession, like many small professional groups we have lost members and momentum, and our training calendar dwindled to nothing. We are working to revive this, which is why you are now receiving regular invitations to upcoming events.
In the meantime, people have continued to build their own networking and training opportunities outside AFTNC. Many of these combine individual and systemic frameworks, and individualistic and systemic practitioners, in part no doubt due to the history of merging the two into one MFT license in California. While I want AFTNC to maintain its identity as a strong advocate for systemic, conjoint therapy work, the reality is that many of us have connections in multiple “worlds” and find that they all have something to offer. Few of us have the privilege of insisting on an exclusively “classic MFT” focus for our teaching, clinical work, or networking.
While I can’t speak to what opportunities there were for online connection in the past, in the decade-plus I have been in the Bay Area, I have seen relatively little traffic on our mailing list. The newsletter has been on permanent hiatus for lack of volunteers to compose and compile it. As I mentioned above, we built a forum into our website, but it needs investment from members if people want to make it worth a regular visit. In the meantime, we have this list where we can share our activities with one another, ask questions, and offer resources, so we know we are not working alone.
Concern 3: Managing email. Many of us, myself included, are members of multiple organizations and many mailing lists. A nice feature of Google Groups is that you can choose to receive “digests” – either a daily summary of all posts to the list, with links so you can read more, or a summary every 25 posts or so. We are a fairly low-traffic group usually, so I don’t recommend the latter. But if you want to put yourself on “digest,” go to http://groups.google.com, click on “My Groups,” and find “AFTNC” near the top. At the right you should see a drop-down box that may say “Every new message.” Click on it, and choose “Send daily summaries.” You can also choose “Don’t send email updates” if you want no mail at all, but still be able to check group posts if you go to Google Groups. If you want to unsubscribe, choose “Leave this group” all the way to the right. We will miss you if you go.
Concern 4: How we relate. On the one hand, as a believer in person-to-person relationships and the value of avoiding triangulation and secrets, I welcome discussion out in the open.
On the other hand, I see the irony in creating a lengthy email thread that began as a concern about email volume.
In the future, I would ask that if you are concerned about a post to the mailing list, please reach out to me directly, or to AFTNC in general. My personal address is below. From here on out, firstname.lastname@example.org should reach someone, if not me once I am out of office. email@example.com should always go to multiple Board members. I will be glad to talk with you back-channel, and if needed, clarify policies with the poster.
I would also like for our list to be a place where we treat one another like family, although I know that per Whitaker, we are all scapegoats sent out to battle for our own family’s culture, and I certainly don’t want to replicate the way MY family talked to one another. My preference would be for us to approach one another with curiosity and friendliness, with a “gentleness model” of relationship perhaps reminiscent of Gottman’s findings on successful marriages.
Look for upcoming announcements from me of more events, and solicitation for interest in offering your own expertise to the membership!