Creating More Inclusive Meetings

The problem is the problem.

Culture, society, individual characteristics and other elements of difference could be seen as causing tension or difficulty between parties in the meeting space. It is important to remember as Michael White (an important family therapist) asserts:

The problem is the problem, the person is not the problem. (21)

Coming to the meeting space in a place of curiosity helps school staff become and remain more flexible in their thought processes and ideas. In systemic family therapy, this flexibility is aligned with the process of self-reflexivity. Burnham defined self-reflexivity as “the intention, desire, processes and practices through which therapists and clients explicitly engage one another in coordinating their resources so as to create a relationship with therapeutic potential” (22).

For school staff this means trying to understand why we make assumptions about families based on characteristics such as socioeconomic position or age in simple interactions, like hearing them speak.

These feelings result from an unconscious bias, or judgement, which involves making assumptions or applying stereotypes based on one’s history and experiences. Self-reflexive thinking can help the worker think about one's own biases to limit the problems this can create in the therapeutic relationship. A more curious stance in the observation will allow more subjectivity into our thinking (the recognition of a variety of realities and possibilities).

(21) White M. (1988/9) The externalizing of the problem and the re-authoring of lives and relationships. Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Summer (special edition). Republished in White M (1989) Selected Papers (pp. 5–28). Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications. (22) Burnham, John (2005). ‘Relational reflexivity: a tool for socially constructing therapeutic relationships,’ In: Flaskas, C. et al. (Eds.) The space between: experience, context and process in the therapeutic relationship. London: Karnac

Last updated