According to the popular movie from 1989, “If you build it, they will come.” I can’t help but recall that phrase when I think about MAMFT. Many years ago, a few hardworking people had the desire to connect, to form relationships, and to bind together as professionals doing relational work. Now that we find ourselves a month and a half into our independence from AAMFT, I want to take a moment to reflect on the hard work of so many that made independence possible. This was certainly not an overnight decision and required a lot of behind the scenes efforts from so many.
The word pioneer means trailblazer, pathfinder, innovator, and leader. I was able to have lunch today with a group of pioneers. The Council of Past Presidents met for the first time and I found myself very privileged to meet with a group of Past Presidents that have all walked in similar shoes that I find myself walking in now. These people definitely were/are pioneers. They all provided leadership and guidance to the association in its various stages of development. As a parallel, I had different relationships with them in various stages of my professional career. From school program leader, supervisor, colleague, fellow board member, conference travel companion, instructor, and fellow collaborative board meeting attendee, they have all played a part in my development as well. It is for this reason that I’d like to talk about the roots that this association was built on so many years ago.
Relationships. This should not be a surprise that the association was started at a time where relational therapists had to defend the work they were doing. The value of relational therapy was being called into question. Licensure was not even an option in many states. Our association was started because some key people felt that Relationships Matter. We find ourselves surrounded by relationships every day. Our clients have relationships, we have relationships or connections with our clients, we have relationships with colleagues and mentors, and our professional identity also binds us together in relationship.
When I joined the association many years ago, it was from the advice of Ginny D’Angelo. At the time, she was my practicum advisor. She did not tell me to join because it was cheap. She did not tell me to join because I would get discounts at conferences. She told me to join because I would be welcomed into a community of likeminded professionals that can offer guidance and support, a home, of sorts. It was because of my relationship with Ginny that I felt compelled to join my professional association. It was my home. I want it to feel like home to you as well.
Relationships are not always perfect and sometimes relationships are really hard, so I am fully aware that some people may not feel as at home in the association as I do. To that I would say, the board is invested in making this a home for many professionals regardless of licensure, age, gender, political or religious views, or race. We are actively working on building bridges in our professional communities so that others might begin to feel welcome at the table.
Please join MAMFT as we continue to build relationships and carry on the torch that was started so many years ago. Maison, casa, guriga, bahay, tsev, Zuhause…..welcome home.
Megan Oudekerk, PsyD, LMFT, RPT-S