Family is a network. Specialise in nurturing their connections.

In Australia today, Government funding policy is increasingly focusing on including the family and responding to research findings indicating that for a broad range of health, mental health and social problems, the most effective and enduring interventions and treatments are informed by family and systemic therapy.

Many funded programs now require that family engagement, support and family focused treatments are a part of the practice of social workers, psychiatrists, nurses, clinical psychologists, school counsellors, counsellors, family doctors, youth workers, pastors, paediatricians and others.

Systemic theory proposes that all systems (and subsystems) are deeply interconnected and interdependent, and profoundly influencing each other simultaneously.

Demand currently outstrips supply of specialist training in Family and Systemic Therapy.  ACU’s Master of Family and Systemic Therapy is one of only three accredited Masters qualifications in Family Therapy in Australia.

Helping professionals including Psychology, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Community Work, and Youth Work, child, adolescent and adult psychiatry, paediatrics, general practice - particularly in areas of management of childhood chronic illness, geriatrics, and aged care, complex pain management and health/mental health presentation and conditions with comorbidities are all better able to assist families when they have comprehensive education in family and systemic therapy.

The Master of Family and Systemic Therapy will enable practitioners to develop knowledge and skills to the level that best supports the family work in their practice.

Knowledge of and skills in systemic approaches are also applicable for helping professionals in working in systems such as organisations and teams.

The program has developed expert practitioners who can work with families, teams and wider systems; who stay in touch with the leading edge of research on effective and enduring interventions and treatments, and who are able to directly help and/or provide leadership in teams that work with families and other relational systems.

Systemic and family therapy aims to assist families and complex human systems to mobilise their own strengths and relationships to make disturbing symptoms less problematic for suffering individuals.

The key difference between systemic and family therapy and all the many variations of individual psychological interventions, is that while individual therapy gives one person the space to discuss and reflect during 'time out' of their human system, systemic therapy brings parts or all of the system into the therapy.

Family therapy is shown to be one of the key psychological interventions which consistently works.

This Master of Family and Systemic Therapy is a nested postgraduate degree program:

  • Year 1:  Graduate Certificate in Family and Systemic Therapy
  • Year 2:  Graduate Diploma in Family and Systemic Therapy
  • Year 3:  Master of Family and Systemic Therapy.

Students apply to study the Master of Family and Systemic Therapy and can exit at the Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma level.

Graduate Certificate in Family and Systemic Therapy

The aim of the Graduate Certificate in Family and Systemic Therapy is to extend the professional knowledge and skills of helping professionals with specialised knowledge and skills in Family and Systemic therapy to be able to better deliver family focussed, family inclusive, family therapy services to clients within their area of practice. Graduates will be eligible for associate membership of the Australian Association of Family Therapy.

Graduate Diploma in Family and Systemic Therapy

The aim of the Graduate Diploma in Family and Systemic Therapy is to further extend the professional knowledge and skills of helping professionals with advanced specialised knowledge and skills in Family and Systemic therapy to be able to conduct comprehensive family assessment, generate systemic conceptualisations and formulations, plan a course of treatment and effectively deliver family therapy for a range of family issues. Graduates will be eligible for associate membership of the Australian Association of Family Therapy.

Master of Family and Systemic Therapy

The aim of the Master of Family and Systemic Therapy is to advance the professional knowledge, skills of helping professionals to become Family Systemic Therapy practitioner-researchers, able to research their own practice, refining how best to conceptualise, formulate and plan sequences of interventions and treatment which allows a diverse range of families to change and free themselves from complex current and/or multi-generational patterns of interaction emerging from social and emotional vulnerabilities and disadvantages. Graduates will be eligible for clinical membership of the Australian Association of Family Therapy and eligible to join the PACFA Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

To qualify for the Master of Family and Systemic Therapy, a student must complete 120 cp from the Schedule of Unit Offerings comprising of:

(1) 80 cp Specified Core Units; and

(2) 40 cp Supervision Units.

Graduate Certificate in Family and Systemic Therapy

Year 1 Semester 1

Concepts and Models of Family and Systemic Therapy 1

Core unit - 10 cp

  • Models of Family and Systemic Therapy: focus of intervention and change mechanisms
  • Family lifecycle, structure, and communication in the system
  • Trauma and disruption in relational systems

Practices and Processes of Family and Systemic Therapy 1

Core unit - 10 cp

  • Family of origin, and exploring the impact of birth order, family structure, and family rules
  • Exploring multigenerational themes of family history
  • Seeing and experiencing the relational spaces in family systems
  • Secrets, alliances, and coalitions
  • Family and systemic treatment planning

Year 1 Semester 2

Concepts and Models of Family and Systemic Therapy 2 

Core unit - 10 cp

  • Couple formation and consequent
  • Family adaptation and functioning
  • Problems presenting through children and adolescents
  • Trans-generational transmission of trauma: Recent developments in research, theory and practice

Practices and Processes of Family and Systemic Therapy 2

Core unit - 10 cp

  • Exploring the family's ethics, moral and cultural values, and spirituality, as core family resources
  • Exploring intimacy, emotional connection, emotional expression and emotional literacy
  • Session assessment skills

Graduate Diploma in Family and Systemic Therapy

Year 2 Semester 1

Research Informed Frameworks of Family and Systemic Therapy 1

Core unit - 10 cp

Evidence-based models of FST for the treatment of:

  • Complex problems of adolescence, including adolescent depression and suicide, school participation and performance, and juvenile justice.
  • Mental illness in children, adolescents and adults
  • Drug, alcohol and other addictions

Live Supervision and Reflecting Team Practice 1

Supervision unit – 10 cp

Team reflection and self-reflection on live couples practice:

  • Providing generative feedback to clients and colleagues
  • Applying feedback and outcome measures
  • Monitoring micro and macro changes
  • Recognition of the differences between straightforward and complex client systems

Year 2 Semester 2

Research Informed Frameworks of Family and Systemic Therapy 2

Core unit - 10 cp

Models of FST for the treatment of:

  • Physical, emotional and sexual abuse
  • Straightforward and complex couple’s issues
  • Traumatized and traumatizing relational systems, including emotional dysregulation and PTSD

Live Supervision and Reflecting Team Practice 2

Supervision unit – 10 cp 

Advanced principles and practice of team reflection and self-reflection and open dialogue: 

  • Focused generative feedback to clients and colleagues
  • Applying feedback and outcome measures, monitoring micro and macro changes
  • Being effective in clinical work with complex client systems

Master of Family and Systemic Therapy

Year 3 Semester 1

Systemic Attachment Processes and Neuroscience

Core unit - 10 cp

Attachment as a Relational and Systemic Process:

  • Theory, systemic conceptualisation, mentalisation processes
  • Neuroscience and relational systems: attachments and emotional bonds in families
  • Fear and danger in families, and the defence cascade

Advanced Live Supervision and Clinical Teamwork 1

Supervision unit – 10 cp

  • Supervision of complex family systems in real-time or with participants' own recorded session, and a reflecting team
  • Clinical application of case-based research practices: teamwork and the balanced alliance, refining the quality of your practice

Year 3 Semester 2

Transgenerational Loss, Trauma and Mental Health in Relational Systems

Core unit - 10 cp 

Families surviving and adapting to complex losses:

  • Cascading loss and complex trauma in the family system
  • Divorce, grief death of a child, high conflict families
  • Systemic treatment of trauma and grief in children

Advanced Live Supervision and Clinical Teamwork 2

Supervision unit – 10 cp

  • Supervision of complex work in real-time or with participants' own recorded session, and a reflecting team.
  • Clinical application of case-based research practices: learning how to refine the quality of personal practice, identifying patterns of micro-change and macro-changes
  • First and second order changes in relational systems

Prerequisite

The prerequisite course – Core Ideas of Family Therapy – is a four-day intensive course taking place on:

  • 31 January - 1 February; and
  • 7 and 8 February

The Master of Family and Systemic Therapy

Students study two units each semester.  Both units are delivered in three-day intensive mode over three periods per semester as follows:

Semester 1, 2019

  •  12, 13 and 14 March
  • 2, 3 and 4 April
  • 21, 22 and 23 May

Semester 2, 2019

  • 30, 31 July and 1 August
  • 20, 21 and 22 August
  • 17, 18 and 19 September

All days are 9:30am to 4:30pm

Each intensive day will include two main study periods. Students will study one unit in the morning, and the other unit in the afternoon.

Your study will take place in a face-to-face environment purpose built for family therapy education.

Morning and afternoon tea will be provided.

The Master of Family and Systemic Therapy will be offered in Melbourne.

Tuition will take place at either the Williamsroad Family Therapy Centre or at a specialist client site as follows:

  • Williamsroad Family Therapy Centre
    298 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield  VIC
  • Headspace
    66 Victor Cressent, Narre Warren  VIC

WRFTC-Logo-final

ACU is pleased to partner with Williamsroad Family Therapy Centre (WRFTC) to provide the Master of Family and Systemic Therapy.

WRFTC is a privately-owned entity and has been one of the two leading training centres in Australia for Family and Systemic Therapy for over 35 years. Since 1979, WRFTC has delivered leading edge pedagogical adult learning processes that are focused on the practice of systemic interventions and therapy.

The Master of Family and Systemic Therapy is accredited by the  AAFT – The Australian Association of Family Therapy.

To be eligible for admission to the course, an applicant must have:

  1. a Bachelor degree in health or related helping discipline;
    or
  2. a Graduate Certificate in Family and Systemic Therapy
    or
  3. a Graduate Diploma in Family and Systemic Therapy
    and
  4. a minimum of 2 years’ experience in counselling, therapy or clinical work with individuals or families;
    and
  5. been selected for study through an interview process.

Special entry is possible for practitioners with extensive counselling experience but do not have a Bachelor level qualification.

For more information about special entry please contact Alex on alex@williamsroad.vic.edu.au or call (03) 9532 9990.

When you apply via our online portal you’ll need to supply:

  • your past academic transcripts
  • your CV

A four-day intensive workshop – Core Ideas of Family Therapy – is a prerequisite for the Master of Family and Systemic Therapy.  In addition to providing a strong grounding, this course also provides valuable family therapy professional development hours.

Fees are $2,950 per unit for units commencing in 2019.

A Student Services Fee of $45 per semester is also payable per participant, and textbooks may need to be purchased for each unit.

An exceptional and unique team of internationally renowned experts will guide your learning.

Between them you will benefit from their extensive theoretical knowledge, academic rigor, impressive practical skill sets and their absolute dedication to their discipline.

Program Director

Sophie Holmes is the Director of Training, Director of Williamsroad Family Therapy Centre. BA.(Hons), Dip. Ed, M.Ed.Psych, Ph.D., MAPS. Sophie Holmes is a specialist psychologist and is an AHPRA endorsed counselling and educational and developmental psychologist and is an APRAH registered supervisor in her areas of endorsement and as a post -graduate psychology placement supervisor. Sophie is the founding secretary to the board of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA). She served on the board for 15 years, initially the as Secretary and then the Chair of the Ethics Committee, and over that period she was the AAFT delegate to the PACFA Council. Sophie is a former president the Australian Association of Family Therapy (AAFT) and served two terms as treasurer, retiring from that position in 2015. Sophie’s years of experience as a clinical family therapist and supervisor, her contribution to the field of family therapy, and her training and knowledge of teaching process in family therapy fulfil the criteria set by AAFT for person qualified to hold the position of director of an accredited course of training in Family Therapy.

Faculty

Lee-Anne Haslam: B.A Soc.W, M. Soc Sci (Family Therapy). She has extensive experience working with individuals, couples and families, especially with issues of substance use and addiction, and is on the advisory committee of Family Drug Help at the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC).

Manel Halliday: B.A Soc.W, M.Soc.Sci (Family Therapy), clinical Family Therapist with over 20 years clinical experience. She specialises in illness, grief and loss.

Pia Brous: MBBS, BMedSc, MPM, FRANZCP, Cert. Child Psychiatry. Dr. Pia Brous has been a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist for 25 years. She also teaches at the Cunningham Dax Collection and is a member of the Mental Health Review Board.

Giselle Solinsky: MBBS MPM MPS. Director of the Malvern Psychotherapy Clinic, past Director of the Sexuality and Relationship Clinic at Monash Medical Centre, Giselle is a General Practitioner with over 20 years’ experience in couples and relationship therapy, and family therapy.

Heinz Bauer: B.A (Social Work), B.A (Sociology). Heinz Bauer is an accredited Mental Health Social Worker and trained Child/Adolescent and Adult Psychotherapist, with over 25 years’ experience in Australia and overseas. He has worked for hospitals, including the Alfred Hospital Child and Youth Mental Health Service, and he was a clinical consultant for the Indigenous Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service for seven years.

Reserve your place today

Is helping families important to you?  If you're ready to accelerate excellence in clinical practice and transform how you work with families and human systems then reserve your place today.

Apply now

More information

Register your interest

Download the brochure (PDF, 10.4KB)

For more information or to discuss your application contact Patricia or call (03) 9532 9990.

 

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