The practice of Family Strengthening continues to thrive through trailblazers like Salvador Minuchin, Ross Ford and Alford Laws, Jr. Family Strengthening is the product of a rich and fully developed history. The 1960s are widely known as the age of peace and love; however, it was also a time of revolutionizing communication between family members and other human relationships. This pioneer was none other than Salvador Minuchin, a family therapist who first burst onto the scene with his clinical artistry and galvanizing ideas of family structure and communication, better known as Structural Family Therapy.
Here’s a closer look into Minuchin’s work: Structural Family Therapy pioneered the reality that families have inherent strengths that may require skillful validation and restructuring in order to achieve healthy family functioning. Through his untraditional approach, Minuchin discovered that effective family work first recognizes and validates roles, agendas, and messages communicated by individuals and then supports the family with finding solutions within their own family structure. Structural Family Therapy (SFT) was relegated to clinical private practice for many years after its acceptance as a best practice family intervention technique.
The 1970s brought SFT to Baltimore by the assistance of Ross Ford who immediately began to train community workers in the model. Ford recognized the need to enhance and innovate the SFT model by “enriching” it with key replicable skill components. These skills allowed community-based practitioners to successfully validate and restructure family communication and functioning by seamlessly manifesting the core competencies of joining and skillfully reflecting the family’s loving intentions, inherent strengths, kinship communication, and order. At this time, these practice skills were being codified to be easily accessed and understood by all practitioners.
Then enters the Family Strengthening Practice Model – the transformation "back" to the community-based origins of SFT and the evolution of an innovative training regime that provides specific "how-to's" for intervening with complex families in their community environments. Since then, hundreds of individuals and community-based organizations have been trained to successfully integrate the model into their service delivery by Ross Ford, including a special mentee – Al Laws.
In the early 1990s, Al Laws recognized the potential global impact of Family Strengthening and developed an entire human service agency based on the model and has innovated further developments over the last 20 years.
Today, WIN Family Service, Inc., is the home for the promotion of Family Strengthening. Al Laws, as CEO, and Ross Ford, as the President of Family Strengthening, continue to propel and promote the practice of Family Strengthening nationally and internationally.