Asian Academy of Family Therapy
Name of Organization
Asian Academy of Family Therapy
The Asian Academy of Family Therapy (AAFT) is a charitable and nonprofit organization with a vision to promote family therapy research, training, and practice in Asia.
Originally named as Academy of Family Therapy, the same group of visionaries who had established the HKU Family Institute (HKUFI) almost a decade ago started the Asian Academy of Family Therapy in 2012. Through the training effort of the Director of HKUFI, Wai Yung Lee, a collaboration with other Asian regions was formed. As a result, a cross-regional study to compare how couples negotiated their differences among five regions was made possible. This joint venture created a bond among the involving regions. Prominent figures from each region started to meet annually, and in 2015, the Academy officially changed its name to Asian Academy of Family Therapy to reflect the interests and activities of other family therapists in the Asian region. Currently, AAFT is membership-based. Its membership categories include Fellow, which consist of qualified family therapy practitioners from multidisciplinary backgrounds, as well as members who support the vision of AAFT.
AAFT is based in Hong Kong, with core members from the Asian region, including Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Prominent Associated Figures
Wai Yung Lee, Ph.D., Ng Man Lun, M.D., William Fan, M.D., Joyce Ma, Ph.D., Takeshi Tamura, M.D., Shin-Ichi Nakamura, M.D., Zhao Xudong, M.D., Du Yasong, M.D., Meng Fu, M.D., Chen Xiang-Yi, M.D., Hao Wei Wang, M.D., Chao Wen-Tao, M.D., Lin Lee-Chun, M.A., Young-Ju Chun, Ph.D., and Sunin Shin, Ph.D.
Asia covers a vast geographic area with diverse cultures. Each region has very different family norms and language expressions. However, while there are different social and family structures, we do share aspects that are uniquely Asian, such as an emphasis on collectivism rather than individualism, religious and ethical influences of Buddhism and Confucianism, extended kinship system, and lifelong parent/child relationship of filial piety. AAFT is established to create a strong collaboration and professional exchange among our counterparts in Asia. It should be noted that although there are many family therapy associations in other parts of the world, AAFT is the first family therapy organization in this region that represents distinctive effort in developing family therapy. As the service system in Asia tends to be more individual-based, we also have a strong mission to draw together systemic thinkers and practitioners in different parts of Asia to reflect the family-oriented culture of this part of the world.
A comparison of how couples negotiate their differences among five regions including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Contrary to popular belief that Asians are all the same, it was found that couples in these five regions have very different styles in negotiating their differences (Lee et al. 2013).
Children’s response to parental conflict (Lee et al. 2010). Wai Yung Lee has set up an innovative tool to measure how children respond to their parents’ impasse. This tool shows to be very powerful in activating the parents to change when used for clinical purpose. Clinicians from both within the Asian region and abroad are showing interest for possible cross regional collaborations.
Some of AAFT’s activities include professional conferences, which are held in a different region each year. These conferences have been very well received and participants also include professionals from the United States of America and Europe.
AAFT is aiming to provide accreditation for Asian therapists. Criteria that pertains to the Asian culture is currently being established. Each participating region is also working toward developing their own practice and training model that is relevant to their region. For instance, South Korea has a long history in developing family therapy, with very well-systematized organizations and professional standards within the region. In Taiwan, different therapists have also been developing their therapeutic approaches. Mainland China, in particular, has shown a strong interest in the development of systemic approach. Not only are family therapy programs provided by universities and mental health organizations, private institutes, such as the newly established Aitia Family Institute in Shanghai, is one example of how training, practice, and research can be combined to bridge the work between the East and the West. Different regional training efforts are also taking place, such as Takeshi Tamura and his peer supervision group with members who represent different regions meeting regularly at different parts of Asia to exchange ideas and clinical contributions.
Although a strong bond with some Asian regions have been established, AAFT hopes to continue to expand its geographical coverage, to elicit more regional and cultural participation from all over Asia in the near future.
- Asian Academy of Family Therapy. http://www.acafamilytherapy.org