Established in 1953 as the IUFO Commission on Marriage and Marriage Guidance (subsequently: Commission on Marriage and Interpersonal Relations), the ICCFR adopted its current title in 2001 so as to make clear the focus of its work. Its extensive international membership includes organisations and individuals involved in couple and family therapy, relationship education, social work, mediation, psychology and psychiatry, research, social policy, family courts and the law, and family organisations. As a result, the Commission sustains a groundbreaking interdisciplinary dialogue about couple and family relations and the support provided for them by the professions.
Conferences and Communications
The annual international conferences address topics reflecting the current activities and concerns of the membership. Those events bring innovative activities and new thinking about couple and family relations to the attention of their participants and result in publications which reach a much greater readership worldwide. Conference reports are sent to the WFO and a range of interested governments, NGOs and professional bodies. Those reports and main conference papers are held in the database of GIDS (Institute of Sociology, KU Leuven, Belgium) and recent ones are available as separate publications.
The conferences also expand and revitalise the Commission’s active international network of family-related professionals and organisations and promote collaborative activity. Thus, with a minimum of bureaucracy, the worldwide exchange of information and experience is promoted among those whose work connects with and supports couple and family relations – the Commission’s primary purpose.
By responding to the invitations of national organisations or institutions, the Commission is able to ensure that its conferences are held in a different part of the world each year. About twenty countries are usually represented at those events.
The Commission’s conferences are carefully structured as working meetings which draw on the experience and expertise of all who participate. Plenary keynote presentation sessions are complemented by numerous workshops addressing specific topics in more detail and by working groups which relate themes and topics to participants’ own working environments. These working groups are central features of the conferences, generating high levels of participation and of creativity, and providing settings in which new members quickly engage in dialogues with a direct relevance to their own special interests. The continuing involvement of key national institutions and eminent practitioners has been attributed to the very significant benefits of the international multidisciplinary activities of the working groups.
A Board of ten or twelve members drawn from different regions of the world plans and manages the annual conferences and the Commission’s international communications. Members’ meetings held during each conference inform Board members about current interests and concerns and about possible future Commission activities. The Commission’s purposes and agenda are determined internally while fostering positive working relations with other international bodies.