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Our transformation

This is a record of significant events that have taken place at AAFT since the inauguration of AFT in 2012.

Historical events

2012: Opening Ceremony

The Academy of Family Therapy Limited (AFT) was officially launched on May 2, 2012. Close to 400 participants attended the event, during which Dr. Wai-Yung Lee, Clinical Director of AFT, presented a seminar on “Where’s the family in the new mental health era.” In her presentation, Dr. Lee drew our attention to the new version of the DSM-V that was released in the following year, which would radically expand the boundaries of psychiatry, and many normal behaviors would be viewed as “illness” in the future if the DSM-V is accepted with no change. She also examined a range of common mental health problems in children, including ADHD, ODD, and Depression. Dr. Lee used video segments from live family interviews to demonstrate how such symptoms might be linked to family dynamics. She also introduced a family assessment protocol and treatment model that has been proven to be more cost-effective in helping parents deal with their children in distress.

Congratulatory messages from prominent professionals

From Salvador Minchin, M.D. (USA)

Congratulations! I’m indeed excited to learn that your team is doing it again! By highlighting family therapy on the map of human services, I’m sure it will greatly benefit families in your part of the world. You know, the 21st century certainly will be the century of Asia, a world that is tremendously significant. So you are in a fertile environment to produce significant changes in a way that will affect children, adults, and families. That requires all of us to change our mindset of mental health.



 From Evan Imber-Black, Ph.D. (USA)

Dear Wai-Yung,


I am so pleased to offer my congratulations to my valued colleague and dear friend, Dr. Wai-Yung Lee, and all of you who are gathered to launch the new Academy of Family Therapy in Hong Kong. There is a deep and abiding need for multi-disciplinary organizations committed to furthering Systemic thought and practice on behalf of families, communities and larger systems.


Stepping outside of the usual boundaries of organizations requiring membership in only one discipline is in keeping with the very best thought and practice in Family Therapy. Just as we want families to embrace and live well with differences among their members, so bringing together professionals from a rich variety of theories within a broad systemic frame represents our best future.


I know that news of the creation of this important organization will be so welcomed by both the American Family Therapy Academy, whose aims and membership are similar to yours, and by the scholarly journal, Family Process, who seeks authors and readers from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and who will look forward to receiving original work from members of your new organization. I am honored to be a member of your international faculty, and look forward to our creative collaboration on behalf of families.

Warmest Regards,


Evan Imber-Black, Ph.D. Program Director, Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Program, Mercy College, New York, Director, Center for Families and Health, Ackerman Institute for the Family, Past Editor, Family Process, 2004-2011

Dear Wai-yung,


Very happy to join the Academic of Family Therapy to give systemic work a higher profile.


I always (or, probably almost always) keep my word, so most happy to be honorary co-director of the Academy! Thanks for the invitation and feel very honoured. Let me know what I have got to do – I do it happily. Crazy ideas I supply happily, any time. I will provide mad ideas, perhaps even a few sane ones…

Great to be part of such a distinguished directorial team.


It would be good to see you some time. We had a few very interesting day with the European Community Daphne project – all very nice people, a Tower of Babel with all the languages spoken and hopefully some good results. I think you would have enjoyed it. Let me know how things are and if or when you are planning to come to London.

Look after yourselves

love to you both



Eia Asen, M.D., FRCPsych, Director of the Marlborough Family Services, London, UK

Dear Mrs Patricia Chu,


On behalf of Korean Association of Family Therapy (KAFT), I sincerely congratulate on your having the Launching Ceremony for the Academy of Family Therapy in Hong Kong. I hope your organization leads family therapy professionals to enhance their abilities of systemic thinking and clinical practice, and contribute to strengthen family relationship and functioning in your society. I also hope KAFT has an opportunity to collaborate with your organization to make the various types of Asian families healthy and strong in their own manners.


Hyejeong Chung

Hyejeong Chung, PhD., President, Korean Association of Family Therapy

Dear Wai Yung,


It is our great pleasure to witness the inauguration of the Academy of Family Therapy for the Asian region.  I still remember how we talked about the need for such an organization during the 2nd CIFA symposium at the University of Tokyo in 2010.  As the president of the Japanese Association of Family Therapy, it is my greatest honor to be one of the founders of the Academy of Family Therapy alongside our Asian partners. We look forward to collaborating with our dear colleagues in Asia on matters ranging from training, research, and even exchanging clinical experiences.


Once again, on behalf of the Japanese Association of Family Therapy, I would like to extend my warmest greetings on this special day to all our fellow colleagues at the Academy of Family Therapy.



Shin-Ichi Nakamura, M.D., President of Japanese Association of Family Therapy

Hello Wai Yung,


Evan showed me your tape of the families with the children and their parents and I was blown away by it. It is a remarkable piece of work. How inventive! And how courageous to try something that so deviates from what the common thinking. For so many years we have all been dismissing the children when we entered he realm of the parent’s marital squabbles believing this should be kept private. Your project turns this concept upside down. Of course the children are already acutely aware of what is happening as they see and hear about their conflicts every day. Your new way of thinking about this makes perfect sense. I just read a quote from Einstein, “If at first an idea does not appear absurd there is no hope for it.” I would love to try out your idea in our adolescent project. The only problem is that most of the families we see are single parent families—mainly mothers. But my co-therapist Michael Davidovits and I are thinking about how we might use your model even with separated parents.

I hope all is well with both of you. Did you enjoy Toronto? How is Kuan doing? How are you doing. I think about you both often and wish we lived closer together so we could see each other more often. In the meantime,

Much love to both of you,


Peggy Papp, LCSW, Ackerman Institute for the Family, New York

Dear Wai-Yung:


I know the Academy has been a dream of yours for some time, so this is a wonderful dream come true!


Being able to create it is an amazing achievement. I think this kind of institution, with its unique international perspective, will be crucial in continuing to expand the application and development of Family Therapy throughout the world.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience fascinating and effective state of the art training.


I am sure the Academy will also become a place to share ideas and new knowledge. I know the effort it takes to set up an institution of this scope. I am very pleased to have been invited to be part of it.


I want to congratulate you, and all those involved, on this achievement, and I wish you all the best.



Ema Genijovich, Lic.

Dear Wai-Yung,


I will be most happy to support your efforts in developing an Asian Academy of Family Therapy in any way.

Please consider me a “kindred spirit” and feel free to call upon me as your program takes shape.

John and I have just taken on a new 9 month training project for the Los Angeles Deputy Mayor’s Office for Gang Prevention. The Deputy Mayor was a family therapy colleague of John’s in community psychiatry in the 1970s, (and trained with Peggy – small world).

When he began to set up the L.A. program to reach high-risk youth ages 10-15, he was shocked to find that no gang prevention program in any city in the U.S. has any family involvement at all. He was initially encouraged to use one of the “evidence-based models” that are so popular with researchers but he was turned off by the top-down, cookie-cutter, problem-focused, manualized models and came to us for our collaborative resilience-oriented approach.

They have identified 1500 hi-risk youth in affected neighborhoods and have asked us to provide family therapy training sessions and on-line supervision groups for 100 case workers and their supervisors. Overwhelming and humbling assignment. So we’ve assembled a small team for this daunting challenge, including Harry Aponte, Evan and Lascelles, Celia Falicov, and Bill Madsen.

It should be very interesting to combine our efforts and learn from each other.

I wish you every success on your projects and I look forward to keeping in touch.

Warm wishes,


Froma Walsh, PhD, Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Chicago Center for Family Health

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