A major theme at the recent Australian Association Family Therapy conference in Perth in October 2012 was how to define the discipline of family therapy, what it is and isn't, the limits and boundaries of its practice and profession and the extent to which core systemic thinking and practices have been integrated into other mental health and therapy approaches. One interesting question is how much do we gain, and risk, as family therapy is taken to a wider audience as an evidence-based or family-sensitive practice in mental health, psychology or psychiatry? Perhaps we have adapted so well to changing times and trends that we risk losing our radical voice and identity? Indeed does family therapy have a final chapter in its narrative, and here I am mindful of Cechhin, Ray and Lane's (1994) wonderful story of the ‘the last family therapist’, unable to exit the field and retire gracefully, as meetings, conferences, workshops, writing and the reading of books and articles, go on. Alternatively is family therapy like the proverbial phoenix rising anew from the ashes, regenerating into something new that for now we only see as ‘through a glass darkly’? Are we possibly witnessing a renaissance in the tapestry of family therapy theory and practice as we take its message to a more general audience? Heady questions indeed, and in many ways the articles in this issue all resonate with these themes, as they reflect on the creative effectiveness of the ‘open dialogues’ approach in helping persons with serious mental health issues, examine the contribution of systemic and collaborative approaches in therapeutic assessment and outcome research, illustrate how to engage relational healing in an adult attachment interview, explore the possibilities for family work/therapy in aged psychiatry and dialogue about possible links between systemic and psychoanalysis, therapy and spirituality.