Teaching organisation150 hours of focused learning.
Unit rationale, description and aim
The field of Family and Systemic Therapy has developed a broad range of process-recognition and process-descriptions skills, and linked these with conversational-practices and intervention, which psychotherapy research is increasingly demonstrating are a means of generating change in the treatment of individuals, dyads, couples, families and other relational systems. To deliver this complex array of processes and practice students will need to undertake a sequenced introduction and overview. Within this unit, students will be exposed to the broad array of foundational competencies that underpin quality Family and Systemic Therapy practice. Students will learn to recognise and describe current and trans-generation systemic processes, and begin to systematically develop their skills in delivering generative reflections in response to such processes in families and other relational systems. The unit also provides students with entry level practical skills of conducting generative conversations which trigger change and contribute to their becoming effective in using family and systemic practices. The aim of this unit is for students to begin their development with an entry level sequenced series of experiential, reflective activities which build the ethical and foundational Family and Systemic Therapy competencies in managing processes and practices.
|Learning Outcome Number||Learning Outcome Description|
|LO1||Describe and reflect on the use of open-dialogue, balanced alliance and interventive interviewing methods associated with the theoretical frameworks from the different models of Family and Systemic Therapy|
|LO2||Describe and reflect on systemic processes, in their tutorial-team, in their family of origin and in case examples, using the concepts of Family and Systemic Therapy|
|LO3||Construct generative reflections on systemic processes in the tutorial-team and in role-play and in their client work, using the concepts and practices of Family and Systemic Therapy|
Topics will include:
- Reflection, self-reflection and open-dialogue.
- Family of origin, and exploring the impact of birth order, family structure, and family rules.
- Exploring the multi-generational themes of family history.
- Exploring actual loss and anticipated loss of family resources, and the creation of secrets, alliances, and coalitions in families
- Family & systemic engagement skills
- Balanced alliance: The System for Observing Family Therapy Alliances (SOFTA)
- Seeing and experiencing the relational spaces in different family systems
- Family & systemic treatment planning
Learning and teaching strategy and rationale
Since all relational systems generate systemic dynamics which can be regarded as an analogue of family system dynamics, this unit provides a lecturer guided and structured exploration of these phenomenon. This allows for a unique learning opportunity, which family therapists-lecturers utilise and introduce students to noticing, describing and learning the fundamentals of Family and Systemic Therapy conversational and interventive skills, as well as deepening students' understanding about their current skills and contribution to generative and productive systemic processes. This unit involves 35 hours of small group learning, delivered in an intensive mode of 2-3 day workshops where students form a stable tutorial-team of 5-6 members. Students are introduced to practices of open-dialogue and a variety of forms of interventive interviewing. This unit is delivered concurrently with FTHY600 Concepts and Models of Family and Systemic Therapy 1, which provides the concepts, constructs and descriptive language to generate a reflexive acquisition, integration and performance of new conceptual and procedural learning. Each member of the tutorial-team contributes to the learning content by exploring their family of origin, as well as reflecting on the systemic tasks and relational dynamics. As a member of this learning-relational system each student will develop process-recognition and process-description skills, as well as contributing to the systemic-learning of other members of their team. Students will formally discuss and set up individual learning contracts, and make an agreement about the structure and functioning of their tutorial-team as a collaborative-learning and relational system. Students and their team will explore and learn basic systemic practices and about how systemic process unfold within a relational system, at a pace that is respectful and safe.
Assessment strategy and rationale
The three assessments used in this unit assist students to achieve the unit learning outcomes and develop the associated graduate attributes.
Task 1: Journal Keeping: Personal-Professional Journal, Hurdle
The Journal is a comprehensive record of students' thoughts and experiences. It provides an emotionally honest and safe personal recording of reflections, self-reflections, ideas, feelings, and emotional responses which emerge in the course of the interaction in the tutorial team, role play or while viewing a video recording of a family session. This journal builds students' capacity for generative and precise reflection and open-dialogue as an acquired tertiary skill. By recording and discussing with their lecturers and tutorial team their observations and emotional responses, students develop their capacity to manage emotional reactions, improve flexibility and improve emotional self-regulation. The journal keeping task contributes students' cognitive-relational functioning, that is, developing their capacity to manage their attentional and memory process, so that they can notice and recall sequences of interaction and focus on important relational episodes. This task also builds the students' confidence in their unique personal knowledge, as well as their capacity to share expertise and skills in collaborative engagement in systemic process. This task has been found to facilitate development of the complex constellation of cognitive–affective skills which underpin the development of the automaticity of therapeutic responses and sound clinical decision-making in the heat of the moment.
Task 2: Oral Presentation of learning from participation in tutorial team dynamics, Pass/Fail
In this task students are introduced to constructing a systemic conceptualisation and formulation in the collaborative learning relational system, both of which are fundamental Family and Systemic Therapy competencies. This task requires students to draw a link between day-to-day phenomena, and appropriately and succinctly use Family and Systemic Therapy concepts and language-practices, to describe ‘what’s there’ and how they and others respond to a particular experience. This task provides students with authentic practice of these Family and Systemic Therapy competencies. By producing a coherent and succinct narrative of their experience and perspective on how they are facing the dilemmas and challenges of integrating the relational language of Family and Systemic Therapy into their practices, students are generating a systemic formulation. The act of sharing their understanding, which is an analogue for systemic formulation, within the larger group, provides students with both additional practice and valuable feedback. This task allows students to practice and genuinely build their confidence in having a voice in the group, and as an analogue of one of the core processes of Family and Systemic Therapy, generates change in students, contributes to the richness of learning for their colleagues and can be directly translated to work with families.
Task 3: Oral presentation of learning about family of origin and how it impacts on clinical skills, Pass/Fail
In this task students are introduced to constructing a systemic conceptualisation and formulation about their experience in their family of origin, and reporting it to a supportive collaborative learning relational system. These are fundamental Family and Systemic Therapy competencies. This task requires students to draw a link between how they functioned and adapted in their day-to-day life in their family as a child, and adolescent and adult, and how they are responding to clients and functioning as a professional. It draws a link between their past experience and current functioning, and phenomena that they find anxiety provoking, challenging, or exposes their ‘biases’ and ‘blind-spots’. Students need to know about these in order to be effective in using Family and Systemic Therapy practices. Appropriately and succinctly naming these ‘blind-spots’ and ‘biases’ using the Family and Systemic Therapy concepts and language-practices, allows students to generate ‘self-compassion’, free themselves from shame, embarrassment and anxiety, and improves their capacity to describe, with ease and honesty, ‘what’s there’ and how they and others respond to a particular experience. This task provides students with a deep and authentic practice of these Family and Systemic Therapy competencies. By producing a coherent and succinct narrative of their experience and perspective on how they are facing the dilemmas and challenges of integrating the relational language of Family and Systemic Therapy into their practice, students are elaborating on their authentic and generative systemic formulation. This task allows students to practice and genuinely build their confidence in having a voice in the group, and as an analogue of one of the core processes of Family and Systemic Therapy, generates change in themselves, and contributes to the richness of learning for the entire learning relation system.
Overview of assessments
|Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment Tasks||Weighting||Learning Outcomes|
1. Personal-Professional Journal
Develop a Personal-Professional Journal which provides students with a multi-layered record of their experiences and inner conversation generated in the collaborative-learning relational system.
2. Oral Presentation of learning from participation in tutorial team dynamics
Based on the material collected in their personal-professional journal, students prepare an oral presentation (and PowerPoint) of what they have learnt about their participation in the systemic dynamics in the tutorial team.
3. Oral presentation of learning about family of origin and how it impacts on clinical skills
Representative texts and references
Anderson, T. (1987). Reflecting team: Dialogue and meta-dialogue in clinical work, Family Process, 26, 415-427.
Byng-Hall, J. (1985). The family script: a useful bridge between theory and practice. Journal of Family Therapy. ...
Cantwell, P. & Holmes, S. (2004). 'Cumulative process', Journal of Systemic Therapies, 15, 123-129.
Falicov, C. J. (1995). Training to think culturally: A multidimensional comparative framework. Family Process, 34, 373-388.
Gerhart, D., (2017). Mastering competencies in family therapy: A practical approach to theory and clinical case documentation. 3rd Ed, Brooks/Cole.
Holmes, S. & Cantwell, P. (1994). Social construction: A paradigm shift for systemic therapy and training. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 15.
Lipchik, E. (2002). Beyond technique in solution focused therapy. Guilford.
Seikkula, J. (2008). Inner and outer voices in the present moment of family and network therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 30, 478-491.
Seikkula, J. & Trimble, D. (2005). Healing elements of therapeutic conversation: Dialogue as an embodiment of love, Family Process, 44, 461–475.
Stratton, P., Lask, J., Bland, J., Nowotny, E., Evans, C., Singh, R., Janes, E., & Peppiatt, A. (2014). Detecting therapeutic improvement early in therapy: validation of the SCORE-15 index of family functioning and change. Journal of Family Therapy, 36, 3-19
Weingarten, K. (2010). Reasonable hope: Construct, clinical applications, and supports. Family Process, 49, ...