Course Format


Aims for the Foundation Level

Key Outcomes for the Foundation Level

Year 1 Program Overview

The structure of training sessions



Guest Lecturers

Application Form

 Course Format

  • This AAFT ( Australian Association of Family Therapy ) accredited course meets weekly for 5 hours over 40 weeks, from February to December .
  • Learning is facilitated via: weekly article seminars, theoretical presentations, observation of live demonstration interviews, simulation of family interviews, skill development exercises and personal study .
  •  Clinical practice with live supervision and video analysis of clinical work. Clinical work is provided by the course's low fee counselling and consultation service.
  •  Assignments to connect theory and practice
  •  Exploration of the influences of the participants' beliefs and context on the therapist/ client relationship.

 Main Aims for the Foundation Level

  • To understand the theoretical underpinning of the systemic approach
  • To appreciate the recursive nature of beliefs, behaviour and emotions
  • To appreciate and evaluate the influence of context on meanings ascribed to problems
  • To understand circular processes and patterns that evolve over time
  • To understand and employ in clinical practice the ideas of negative explanation, restraints (to finding alternative solutions) and double description
  • To understand the contribution of feminist ideas on systemic practice and to include the analysis of power and gender in systemic practice
  • To critically reflect on the different views of reality and objectivity and their influence on therapist understanding and behaviour
  • To gain clinical skills in the practice of systemic hypothesising and questioning (the Post Milan approach)


Key Outcomes

  • Application of the systemic model's views on problem development and resolution in family systems and wider systems
  • Learning systemic skills with maps of practice
  • Increased understanding of social and personal beliefs about race, gender and sexuality, and their  place in systemic practice.
  • Enhanced core therapeutic skills, such as:
    • Systemic hypothesizing
    • Strategies for engaging families
    • Systemic and collaborative interviewing: circular and reflexive questions
    • Systemic practice interventions: logical connotations, rituals, developing tasks
    • Skills in reframing problems and relationships
    • Assessing and responding to referrals and working with wider systems


Year 1 Program Overview

Term 1 - Systems theory: from the intrapsychic to the interpersonal


  • Systemic Theory: Context, Circularity and Connectedness
  • The importance of appraising the influence of family and developmental life cycles
  • Systemic and traditional formulations of clinical problems

Term 2 - Systemic theory and Practice: The" Patterns that Connect"

  • First order Cybernetics and the Principles of feedback loops
  •  Homeostasis
  • The importance of how actions are categorised and understood: Theory of logical types
  • Exploring the levels of Communication: meta-communication
  • Understanding loyalty to beliefs: Negative explanation and restraints to change


Term 3 - Systemic Theory and Practice: the influence of observing systems

  • 2nd Order cybernetics and Observing Systems
  • Post Milan Systemic Therapy
  • Constructivism
  • How meanings are negotiated in relationships: The Coordinated Management of Meaning


Term 4 - Systemic Theory and Practice:  Social Constructionist theory and Systemic Practice

  • Social Constructionism and the view of the person
  • either participating in reflecting team discussions or in open dialogue involvement. Problem determined systems language and its influence on problems  
  • Therapist self reflexivity and the ideas of a co-constructed therapy
  • Reflecting Teams and Open Dialogue


The structure of training sessions is organized as follows:

 Foundation year:  

  • Article seminar theory presentations
  • Journal reflections
  • Skill development exercises
  • Video reviews
  • Clinical practice Term 1: observation of Course Director's clinical work. From term 2, trainees begin supervised clinical practice
  • Position of the therapist work

 Article Seminars and theory presentations

The course provides the trainees with articles for reading each week. Each trainee takes it in turn to present the key aspects of the article, its influence on their thinking and practice with references drawn from their clinical experience.

The course director follows this with a theoretical presentation on the theory discussed.

Journal reflections

Trainees are asked to maintain a training journal throughout the course. This journal includes the trainee's personal reflections on the systemic ideas and skills learnt, from any part of the course. The journal is used to assist with the final assignment for each year.

Skill development exercises- Learning by doing

One of the key aims of this aspect of the course is to provide opportunities for participants to practice the various skills of systemic therapy .  Skill development exercises are designed to reflect both the theory being covered and the needs of the training group. Such exercises, for example, focus on experiencing the family as a system, observing and tracking patterns, hypothesizing around a problem, working in teams, circular questioning, designing tasks that support change outside of the session.

Clinical Practice: Live Supervision and Video Reviews

The clinical work is provided by the course's low fee counseling and consultation service. This training program takes place in a venue with video recording and observation facilities. Therapists will work directly with individuals, couples and families using live supervision.

  • There will be an emphasis on developing skills in systemic interviewing and forming collaborative relationships with clients.
  •  Trainees are split into teams for work with families. The therapy team is responsible for supporting the therapist, by contributing in reflecting team or open dialogue discussions.
  • The observing team listens to the team discussions and the therapy, and their role is to observe and comment on the team / family relationship, after the therapy has concluded.  This often can include noting popular team hypothesis and its implications, as well as observing how the therapist and the team may be constructing particular interactions or views in their relationship with the family.
  • The observing team gives their feedback to the therapy team in a reflecting team format
  • Summary of these observations also require recording by the therapy team.
  • Reviews of videotapes are used to further learning and awareness of the processes in therapist/client relationships.
  • The clinical practice begins in the second term of the foundation year. At other times, trainees are part of a reflecting team .
  • Trainees are expected to work with 2 families each during the foundation year.
  • Trainees maintain the case files for their clients using the course's session notes guidelines.  

The Position of the Therapist

Therapists will have opportunities to develop awareness of their influence in constructing meaning and particular episodes of interaction in their relationships with clients. The course therefore examines the influences of family of origin and socio/cultural themes on therapists' perceptions and actions in the therapy process. This area of work involves understanding the importance of ethical standards and behaviours in systemic practice.

The trainee is required to participate with specific exercises, which demonstrate the influence of his/her own self on the clinical work as well as demonstrating how ideas and actions can emerge and evolve in social interaction with clients and families. This work begins in the third term of the first year and continues into the second year.



Trainees are expected to submit assignments at the end of each term, in addition to providing 2 book reviews per year. This is done in order to demonstrate understanding of systemic therapy and to consolidate learning.

These assignments are between 1500-2000 words and are presented to the training group and director.

 Clinical Skills

The Course Director uses live supervision of trainees' clinical sessions to develop an assessment of the trainee's performance.

  •  With the client's permission, sessions are videotaped and replayed for team analysis.
  •  Trainees are requested to review each tape of their clinical work and to highlight segments of interaction which they found challenging. A practice development checklist , appropriate to the course level, is used for reviewing the tape.
  • Tapes are reviewed in the training group. Role-plays are then used to experiment with alternative ways of responding.
  •  The discussions held during mid and end of session breaks are occasionally videotaped in order to track the trainees' and team's thinking as session's progress.

 Accreditation and eligibility for clinical membership

The Australian Association of Family Therapy has accredited this course.

Following the completion of the course, trainees complete the AAFT's  supervision requirements through their own arrangements. (50 hours post training) 

The trainees are instructed in making a post training supervision contract and in the keeping of a log such that is acceptable for submission to AAFT for Clinical Membership.

Guest Lecturers

Skilled and experienced therapists and trainers contribute to this course, at no extra cost to the trainees. Ian Percy contributes to the learning of Narrative Therapy in the second year.


Please contact Roxanne E:

M: 0423165971

Application Form



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