The Salem Center is located in Salem, Massachusetts. It was born out of an intersection of interests shared by Stephen Gaddis, Evan Longin, and Marjorie Roberts. In the 1990s, Marjorie and Evan had clinical offices in the same building and began to be interested in each other's work. Marjorie was grounded in dialogic and reflecting practices in the tradition of Tom Andersen and Peggy Penn, while Evan had a long history of irreverence toward traditional “structuralist and modernist” therapy practices. Evan and Marty began to create reflecting teams of graduate students from Salem State College whom Evan invited to participate in their clinical work with families. This led to some interesting experiences where so-called “identified patients” were invited to “sit” on reflecting teams with the “professionals” so they could contribute their ideas about problems in their families.
In 1999, Stephen joined Evan and Marjorie. Stephen had been immersed for many years in Narrative Therapy in the tradition of Michael White. The three of them began collaborating within their private practices, which were all located at 204 Lafayette Street in Salem. In 2000, the idea of offering a formal course emerged and the Intensive Course in Postmodern Therapies and Reflecting Team Practices was created and continues to this day. The course is centered on experiential learning principles. Much of the learning for students takes place in actual meetings with clients. Stephen used some of these meetings with couples to complete his doctoral dissertation in Marriage and Family Therapy, a version of which was published in the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work.
As more and more students participated, Stephen, Marjorie, and Evan were excited by the re-vitalization of their work. Their relationships with the students enriched them and the learning was bi-directional. Formal steps were taken to make The Salem Center for Therapy, Training, and Research an official non-profit organization.
Many distinguished contributors to our field have generously shared their ideas and practices during visits to The Salem Center. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have relationships with them. Some or our friends include Tom Andersen, Lynn Hoffman, Peggy Penn, Jaddo Seikula, Kaethe Weingarten, Michael de Vibe, Judy Davis, and Mary Olson.
We launched our first conference in 2004, “Where We Are in the Evolution of Dialogic Therapies,” in collaboration with Salem State College. This was an amazing gathering of creative and influential therapists. Tom Andersen, Peggy Penn, and Lynn Hoffman presented, and they were joined by their collegues Harlene Anderson, John Shotter, Mary Olson, and SallyAnn Roth. Our second conference, “Staying Alive for the Last Session of the Day,” was held on April 13, 2007 and co-hosted with Salem State College and MAMFT. On March 28, 2008, our spring conference was held in Marblehead, MA, “In Honor of Tom Andersen” and featured distinguished colleagues John Shotter, Sheila MacNamee and Arlene Katz, who shared their reflections and understanding of Tom's work.
As much as we value our relationships with these visiting colleagues, we are equally excited about the growing community of practitioners who share our commitment to The Salem Center's Mission. The evolution of our local community sustains us and opens us to new ways of being better therapists. All of our students, volunteers, interns, and faculty, make The Salem Center feel like a home in the best sense of the idea, and we are grateful for that.
Our fall conference attracted new therapists and student from all over Massachusetts to participate in ideas generated around Engaging “Difficult and Resistant” Children and Adolescents, Who Are Not Interested in Therapy. This day long workshop launched The Salem Center's ideas and practices in to the next generation of post-modern thinkers and practitioners. It was a fun and successful day.