We’ve become particularly aware in the last few weeks of the importance of productive legislative processes. This is true both on a national level and a local level, as we advocate for our professional perspective.
Being at the table with legislative committees at local town meetings, at State “Legislative Days” etc creates the opportunity for our voices to be heard, our presence acknowledged and our knowledge and wisdom experienced. Being absent sends a message of indifference. Being present at the table sends a message of concern for the well being of marriages, families and people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It means members of the AAMFT community giving and believing they can make a difference.
As chair of the MAMFT legislative and advocacy committee, I am creating four zones from within the state: Cape Cod/Islands, the Boston area, including North and South Shore, Central Mass, centralized in the Worcester area, and Western Mass, with emphases in the Springfield and Pittsfield areas. Committee members would focus on the legislative needs of their respective areas.
Each committee member will be responsible for monitoring five tasks:
- Becoming aware of issues of regulations and identifying law regarding engagement of family systems theory and therapy.
- Sending a letter to all elected legislators with an introduction letter regarding the distinctive discipline of marriage and family therapy as a parallel player in the provision and practice of individual, couple, family, and organizational (i.e. community, church) therapies. Then annually, as members of the legislature changes, newly elected or appointed persons would receive this letter as well.
- Compile an annotated bibliography of research in the last 10 years about the effectiveness of systems theory/marriage and family therapy, sending this to local representatives and senators and other local government officials.
- Sending notification to membership of any bills in the pipeline that impact the definition of family in MA, the practice of couple and family therapy, and the presence of “regulatory statements” regarding the provision of intervention for therapy for couples and families.
- Engaging in other forms of dialogue with legislators.
We want to determine how to appropriately collaborate with and support other mental health practitioners, including (but not limited to) MAMHCA and NASW leaders in Massachusetts, the Internal Family Systems leaders, and CBHI agencies.
If you were willing to be part of “Advocacy Team” team to both posture and position MFT’s for the future of the well-being of families of Massachusetts, please send a note to Donald Paine. The committee will meet two times a year—once in person and once electronically.
The Reverend Dr. Donald Paine, LICSW, is the chair of the legislative and advocacy committee for the board of MAMFT. He is the President of Paraklein Counseling and Consultation Services, and practices in West Stockbridge.