chapter  12
Family therapy
ByPhilippa Seligman
Pages 14

Newly qualified as a social worker in 1972, I had been in my child guidance clinic job for a couple of weeks when I caught on to two very important beliefs which were firmly embedded in the system. One of the family therapy pioneers, Virginia Satir, used to say that the era of the immaculate conception still reigned supreme and so it occurred to no one that fathers might be invited to discuss their child’s doings or misdoings, and the other belief was that Psychiatrists Rule OK and so, in the hierarchy of clinic teams, social workers were outdone in lowliness only by students, secretaries and cleaners-the two latter categories being all-female. Encouraged by a progressive family therapy lecturer on my course and emboldened by the award of my qualifying certificates, I challenged these beliefs in one memorable conversation with the psychiatrist prior to a session where the doctor would interview the child and, based on my report of a home visit, write a report of her own whilst I ‘chatted to’ the mother.