In this article we discuss how the power of dominant discourses shapes the institutional contexts in which family therapists work. We ask: In what way do these discourses affect family therapy practices? What challenges do family therapy practice, training, supervision and research encounter when attempting to maintain systemic, dialogic, reflexive, and narrative ideas, and to develop them further according to the demands of economic and social changes in society? We question the goals of exactness and certainty, by referring to both family therapy and social work literature. In our view, living with uncertainty, confusion and doubt is part of life. We argue that family therapeutic expertise is both valuable and useful, especially in the tensions of dominant discourses and the uncertainty of the times in which we now live. To our understanding, reflexive expertise is a central component of this expertise. The deconstruction of powerful narratives and critical reflection helps the practitioner to perceive the dominant discourses that affect her work, and to consider the demands and possibilities they offer. Using both horizontal and vertical expertise, family therapists are able to see families’ lives and dilemmas in a wide-ranging way. This enables them to co-operate in multidisciplinary networks and maintain their own agency in demanding working conditions.

Keywords: dominant discourses, reflexivity, critical reflection, vertical and horizontal expertise