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IAGP’s Public Statement Following the Sequelae to
the Trump Administration’s Policy of Separating Children from Parents

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-  for free circulation to stop the torture of children and people in situations of enforced relocation due to poverty, war or natural disaster.

The International Association for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (IAGP) with its 400 individual members, and 41 Affiliate (Organisational) members has an outreach to more than 5,000 mental health professional members including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists, expressive arts therapists, as well as mental health, family and pastoral counsellors, child care professionals, criminologists and organisational and group process consultants. It is the largest organisation globally, working internationally with group psychotherapy and group processes. One of our affiliate members, the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), recently made an eloquent Public Statement Regarding the Policy of Separating Children from Parents [see below] which we wholeheartedly endorsed and circulated. The American Psychological Association (APA) and the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) were among organisations who also made public statements.

Clearly the public repudiation of the Trump Administration’s policy to separate children from their parents had a powerful effect and they were obliged to retract their decision. But the nightmare isn’t over. The children have not been reunited with their parents. All the scientific research and theory available to us regarding child development and the need for safe attachment is being blatantly ignored or worse still, being applied perversely to torture families, particularly children, as a way of frightening people away.

I was amazed a few years ago when I heard the APA in the wake of the public emergence of information about Guantanamo human rights abuse had to write into their ethical guidelines that state employed psychologists were not permitted to torture their clients. IAGP realised that we needed to do the same thing to protect state employed professionals from being obliged to use their knowledge in a perverse way to torture their clients.

I’m trying to imagine what on earth makes the Administration of such a powerful country as the USA, so afraid of babies that it must tear them away from their protectors and put them in cages - knowingly traumatising them with long term consequences, if not exterminating them.

If the fear is, that the population of the world is expanding to such terrifying proportions, that there will not be enough resources for everyone, there is clear evidence that demonstrates that the rise in the global population is planing out. See Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnlund’s book “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think” and their website https://www.gapminder.org/videos/dont-panic-the-facts-about-population

Harvard psychologist, Steven Pinker's, latest book "Enlightenment now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress" uses statistics to argue that health, prosperity, safety, peace, and happiness are on the rise, both in the West and worldwide. Pinker attributes these positive outcomes to Enlightenment values such as reason, science, and humanism.

The world has become more tolerant and open. Progress is clear. Broad liberalism is expanding at the same time as the populist and nationalist wave. Both developments are occurring simultaneously.

What is fascinating is that whichever country we consider - Nigeria, India, Brazil, China - we see a similar development emerge, generation for generation, towards ever stronger emancipatory values. We are moving in a similar direction, whilst different parts of the world are in different phases.

JL Moreno and SH Foulkes together with others founded IAGP from a shared vision that with our group psychotherapy and group process methods we could make significant changes in the world by meeting ‘the other’.

We are citizens of the world. According to Professor Carl Folke, Stockholm Resilience Centre the fundamental questions for us all are: poverty, security, democracy, power, health, human rights, equality, peace, resting on the life-maintaining power and resilience of the biosphere. The biosphere provides the basic conditions for maintaining the dignity of human relationships.

“The level of financial inequality around the world is staggering. According to a new Credit Suisse report (November 2017), 45.9 percent of global household wealth is in the hands of just 0.7 percent of the world's population.” This can only really be seen as a kind of fiscal impediment. It’s tragic! Where is the flow which is needed for all forms of health? Using our professional knowledge and methods we can find ways to stop panicking and use creative constructive solutions to peacefully co-exist in our one-world. This would be a more joyful solution for our extremely wealthy and rather congested citizens than hoarding their millions to the desperation of the remaining huge proportion of the world’s inhabitants. Is torture really the only dull joy they can imagine?

Kate Bradshaw Tauvon MA, G.A. Dip., TEP
IAGP President

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AGPA Public Statement Regarding the Policy of Separating Children from Parents

In concert with the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.N. Human Rights Office, the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) is calling upon the Trump Administration to stop its policy of separating children from their parents after crossing the U.S. border from Mexico.  The removal of children from the necessary attachment to their parents threatens them physically and psychologically. This dangerous violation of children’s human rights equates to legislating atrocity.

 

The American Group Psychotherapy Association represents over 2,000 mental health professional members including psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, as well as mental health, family, and pastoral counselors.  AGPA is committed to supporting the dignity and psychological safety of every individual without discrimination regarding race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sex, age, or disability. Central to our mission is a belief in the power of groups to treat mental illness, heal the scars from traumatic events, and enhance the well-being of adults and children in their families, schools, corporate settings, and communities.

 

The family unit is paramount to the regulation of stress in the face of violence, exile, and life threat. Without the physical, psychological, and social bonds of connection, research consistently demonstrates that children cannot regulate the stress that results from traumatic events. Attachment to parents is the most basic and effective regulator; this relationship is a lifeline.  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network specifically lists immigration and parental deportation as traumatic separations.  The imposed rupture of the parental bond is a traumatic assault of the child and puts the child at dire risk. The mandate to DO NO HARM has been shattered. We have owned the injustice and damage done by separating Native American children from their families and sending them to boarding schools. We look with shame at the Japanese internment camps, and we remember with horror the deadly separation of parents and children during the Holocaust.

We can’t forget, nor can the world.

In the face of a government policy that makes common practice the violation of children’s right to be with their parents, we are registering alarm and underscoring the need for a change in the Administration’s Policy.  To continue this harmful practice is to ignore what mental health practitioners and researchers have long established: attachment is fundamental to all other positive outcomes for human beings.  Its disruption has long-standing and irreversible impact and violates all that we know about mental health.

Developed by the AGPA Community Outreach Task Force Co-Chairs
Craig Haen, PhD, LCAT, CGP, FAGPA
Suzanne B. Phillips, PsyD, ABPP, CGP, FAGPA



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