Dear AAMFT Members;
Recently, as President of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) I was contacted by a representative of the Psychotherapy Networker to inquire about an interview on matters of AAMFT operations, policies, and processes. He asked questions about a state division of AAMFT, AAMFT’s elections process, membership statistics, and plans for the future. After discussion, the AAMFT Board decided not to give an interview to the Networker about any of these matters.
The AAMFT Board recognizes that the Networker is likely to publish material that will not cast AAMFT in a good light. It may reference the fact that we “declined to be interviewed” for their story. We wanted to write to you and let you know the context for our decision, and our commitment to you and to the best for AAMFT.
The Networker asked about AAMFT’s plans for the future. As you know, AAMFT spent the last two years engaged in a strategic planning process that is now being implemented in a variety of ways. Many of you participated in that process. The entire membership of AAMFT was engaged in that planning throughout the process. It is exciting to be part of AAMFT in these times of growth and change.
There was a question about the membership trends in AAMFT. Again, as has been reported to divisional leaders, the total membership of AAMFT continues to grow. Over the past two years our student membership has increased by over 1500. The successes that AAMFT has achieved to advance the MFT profession, particularly in the last two decades, led to MFT being recognized as one of the 50 best careers by US News and World Report for the last two years in a row. It seems that the message about the MFT profession is getting out!
Finally, the Networker asked about AAMFT’s policies. Over the years, the AAMFT Board of Directors has worked diligently to build policies and processes that reflect the best practices in the non-profit world. We have policies and mechanisms to ensure that there is integrity in our process through conflict of interest and limitations policies that govern both Board and staff.
Under ordinary circumstances, AAMFT would respond to these types of requests as a matter of course. We are proud of AAMFT’s values, processes, policies and operations, and our plans for the future. None of these are unknown or unknowable to AAMFT members.
Why, then, with this proud record, would AAMFT have grave concerns about speaking with representatives of the Networker? Unfortunately, this reluctance is because of previous experience with the Networker and the record of that publication in relationship to AAMFT.
When the Networker expressed interest in interviewing AAMFT leaders last year, then AAMFT President Linda Schwallie both called and emailed the Editor of the Networker, requesting to speak with him directly rather than through some other representative. He declined to speak with her, referring her back to the reporter, and subsequently not responding to her email at all.
Despite misgivings and this experience, the AAMFT President did speak at length with the representative. Unfortunately, the subsequent article that appeared bore little resemblance to the points that she made about AAMFT’s activities and positions. Rather, her quotes were used as “foils” for those who wished to criticize our Association.
We know that several letters were sent to the Networker as letters to the Editor, protesting the clear bias of that story about AAMFT, because the AAMFT Board received copies of some of those letters. We also know that the Networker refused to print some of those letters that challenged the assumptions, facts, and slant of that story.
In the most recent published issue of the Networker, there was a full-page ad from an anonymous group that was highly critical of the AAMFT Board of Directors, and made statements that simply are not accurate or true. Presumably that was a paid ad, giving the Networker at least some commercial interest in keeping this story active in that magazine. If it was not a paid ad, then the editorial bias the Networker has against AAMFT is self-evident. Either way, it gives the AAMFT Board of Directors little confidence that the Networker is interested in a fair and balanced presentation of the positions, policies, and actions of our organization.
Since AAMFT and the Networker are both non-profit organizations, dedicated to the common good, we cannot see how it is part of the Networker’s non-profit mission or service to foment or engage in activities that exacerbate tension in another. There is no way for us to control, or really even influence what would appear in the Networker, as we experienced previously. It is conceivable that any story about AAMFT might be accompanied on a facing page by an advertisement taken out by those who would wish to continue to criticize our organization.
For these reasons, we have chosen not to respond to the Networker’s request for an interview. Rather, we have decided to redouble our efforts to communicate with and serve our members. Our goal is to focus on our strategic plan, our future direction, and our relationship with you and other members. There are exciting things happening in AAMFT, and we are committed to working collaborative and openly with you to accomplish great things for all our members and our profession.
P.S. The AAMFT Board has established a page on the AAMFT Website to publish clarifications to any inaccurate or misleading articles or statements matters that may be published about AAMFT. We offer this to you for your information and reference. You may find it HERE. If you see material that you believe AAMFT should address, please let us know through firstname.lastname@example.org.