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Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

Family and Systemic Psychotherapist

Family and systemic psychotherapists work with a wide range of psychological and relationship difficulties in emotional, mental and physical health. Research shows family therapy is useful for children, young people, adults and older adults experiencing a wide range of difficulties and circumstances including:

  • Couple relationship difficulties
  • Child and adolescent mental health issues
  • Adult mental health issues
  • Child, adolescent and adult behaviour difficulties
  • Parenting issues
  • Illness and disability in the family
  • Separation, divorce and step-family life
  • Anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders
  • Fostering, adoption, kinship care and the needs of ‘looked after' children
  • Domestic violence and abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • The effects of trauma
  • Difficulties related to ageing and other life cycle changes

As a family and systemic psychotherapist you will be trained in a number of systemic therapeutic approaches, and be able to use psychological evidence and theory to create a shared map or "formulation" of psychological difficulties, which will guide therapies and other interventions that you will provide.

As a family and systemic psychotherapist, you may work with a specific population, such as with children and young people, adults of all ages, or people with learning disabilities. Alternatively you may use family and systemic psychotherapy in a particular work setting such as mental health or social care. Family and systemic psychotherapists provide therapy for whole families, parts of a family, individuals and couples, as well as teams and services. You will provide supervision and support to other professionals and teams, and also develop services and carry out research.

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Required Training for this Role

Family and systemic psychotherapy training is by taught master's degree or doctorate course. This postgraduate training is usually conducted on a part-time basis while continuing in your current job role. A unique aspect of training in family and systemic psychotherapy is the ‘live supervision’ element during which you will have the benefit of your clinical supervisor observing your work in the moment to guide your learning and skill development. You will also complete academic, research, teaching and personal development components.

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Entry Requirements to Train for this Role

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Family and systemic psychotherapists must have a prior clinical training and qualification (such as clinical psychology, social work, psychiatry or mental health nursing), before embarking on postgraduate level training in family and systemic psychotherapy. Entry to the qualifying level training requires successful completion of the Foundation and Intermediate level trainings in systems theory and practice.

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You will also need substantial work experience that relates to the field of psychotherapy. An ability to reflect upon one’s own life and relational experiences are essential.

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Salary Expectations

Newly qualified family and systemic psychotherapists are often employed at Band 7 on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, moving to the main career grade of 8a following a preceptorship process. Progression to a higher band requires further specialisation, as well as additional management and leadership responsibilities. Some family and systemic psychotherapists progress to leadership positions across the full range of Agenda for Change pay all the way to Band 8d or 9.

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Future Career Options

As a family and systemic psychotherapist you may have opportunities to progress into roles where you supervise and lead other psychological professionals, or multi-professional clinical teams. Family and systemic psychotherapists sometimes specialise in particular areas such as eating disorders, or child and adolescent mental health. You may also be able to progress into training others or doing research. Some family and systemic psychotherapists go on to work at very senior level leadership positions.

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Registering or Accrediting Body

Family and systemic psychotherapists register with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) in the College for Family, Couple and Systemic Therapy.

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Professional Organisation

Much of the training, registration and professional affairs relating to family and systemic psychotherapy is overseen by the ‘Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK’ (AFT). Membership of AFT is open to all, but those who have completed the qualifying level training and who are registered with UKCP will be eligible for registered member status of AFT.