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MSc Family and Systemic Psychotherapy

Course Description

Course Summary

Critical and reflective examination of systemic theory is at the heart of this course, and you will also focus on the application of a systemic framework to practice and research.

You study different approaches to therapeutic work across a range of subjects and client groups, including adult mental health, individuals, couples, children and families.

You will also sharpen your own critical responses to discourses relating to power, difference and diversity, and develop the skills needed to address issues of discrimination.

This course is delivered in partnership with the Institute of Family Therapy in London.

Intermediate qualifications available:

- Postgraduate diploma – 120 credits at Masters level

Choose Family and Systemic Psychotherapy MSc and:

- Study through a combination of lectures, group exercises and activities, and in addition to focusing on research and theory, benefit from the programme’s clinical practice component
- Explore a range of qualitative methods for conducting research, before designing and conducting a piece of work in an area of your own interest and practice that you will write up for your final dissertation
- Develop systemic practice skills through weekly attendance of a supervision group where you will work directly with clients assessing risk, safety and vulnerability, the therapeutic relationship, interventions, and theories of change
- Gain an opportunity to develop your professional interests and contribute to the development of knowledge within the systemic field
- Benefit from power and diversity group plenaries which will support you in the development of a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding power and discrimination.

Why choose this course?

The Research component of the course encourages independent learning, providing you with an opportunity to develop your own professional practice interests in initiating and taking responsibility for a research project and dissertation, contributing to the development of knowledge within the systemic field. The course aims to help you develop your work with families and couples, to increase and consolidate your theoretical and clinical skills and your understanding of the use of the self in practice. The inclusion of a wide range of approaches is an important characteristic. It is part of the course philosophy to encourage you in the development of a critical approach to theory and practice examining the inequalities and differences for example of race, class, gender, and to encourage an ethical and anti-discriminatory approach to clients. Use of self and self-reflexive practice is a core aspect of training,

A particular feature of the course are the Power and Diversity group plenaries, which support you in developing your understanding of issues of power and discrimination. These plenaries supplement and support the acquisition of these skills in your supervision group to apply this understanding in your therapeutic practice.

Subject to the agreement of your agency, you will be expected to bring your own case material for discussion and video or audio recordings of your work. Where appropriate signed, informed consent will be obtained from families for this purpose. For review of work during the course through DVD consultation, the consent forms for therapy include consent to record and review for the purposes of training. The academic and experiential learning provided encourages you to develop a broad critique and to apply a range of interventions in family and other related contexts in which you have a professional role. .

The course is the final stage of training leading to qualification as a family / systemic psychotherapist and eligibility to register with the UKCP.

The part time structure of the course enables you to continue in your employment while you study. The combination of evening and day time study and its central location make it accessible geographically to students from different parts of the UK. Tutors and supervisors are all registered systemic psychotherapists and systemic supervisors, many of whom have a PhD, combining academic rigour which is also grounded in clinical practice, contributing to a rich learning experience.

Entry requirements

Additional Requirements:

- Relevant First Qualification or equivalent;
- Successful completion of an accredited Foundation & Intermediate Level Training or equivalent;
- 4 years experience working in / closely with mental health and / or social welfare settings, a minimum 2 years of which should be post-qualifying;
- Grounding in child development & psychology

There is an APEL /APL route for those applicants who do not have a relevant first qualification or who have not completed an accredited Foundation and Intermediate systemic course. (accreditation of prior experience and learning)

Career Management Skills

You are expected to carry out 200 hours of agency based practice, making use of systemic theory and practice. You are thus able to demonstrate the application of your new skills to your current practice. The Workplace Consultation and Skills group, as well as the role you play in contributing to the development of each others learning also help you to develop skills which will enhance your career management skills and which transfer directly to the workplace. Evidence of the 200 hours of practice will appear in your Reflective Journal. Your tutor will offer advice about the format of this evidence.

Career/Further study opportunities


This course qualifies you to practice as a family and systemic psychotherapist, and to apply for registration with the UKCP. Depending on your background and first professional qualification you may also have the possibility to apply for designated family therapist posts within the NHS. Following the Munro Report published in 2011 opportunities are beginning to open up for family therapy posts within the Social Care context, and a growing number of independent and third sector agencies are interested in having a qualified family / systemic psychotherapist on their staff, or providing consultation to their work. Other students go on to develop independent practice, often alongside posts within the statutory sector

Further study:

Qualified practitioners with post-qualifying experience are eligible to apply for further study to become qualified systemic supervisors.

They may also apply for further study at Doctorate level, contributing to the development of knowledge within the field.

Students also use the increased confidence in their written and academic abilities to contribute written articles to journals within the field, for example the Journal of Family Therapy and to further develop their research interests.

Visit the MSc Family and Systemic Psychotherapy page on the University of Bedfordshire website for more details!

Entry Requirements

See Course Description

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