Credit points


Campus offering

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FTHY602 Practices and Processes of Family and Systemic Therapy 1 AND FTHY603 Practices and Processes of Family and Systemic Therapy 2

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Family and systemic therapists (FST) work with the highly complex matrix of family relationships and the interaction that these relationships generate, including the complex array of emotions, behaviours and belief. Consequently, theories and models of practice that are supported by research have a highly significant role in guiding clinical decision-making, and combined with precisely delivered conversational-practices and intervention, generate change. Psychotherapy research is increasingly demonstrating that family and systemic therapy (FST) delivered thoughtfully and precisely, is a highly effective and enduring means of generating change in the treatment of individuals, dyads, couples, families and other relational systems. To deliver FST and effectively utilise the complex array of models, processes and practice you will need to undertake a sequence of live-supervised practice and reflection-on-practice. This unit builds on FTHY602 & FTHY603 Practices and Processes of Family and Systemic Therapy 1&2, and aims provides you with an introduction to live supervised practice, using the reflecting team process which is a clinical supervisory format that is designed to be of benefit to both clients and therapists, and reflection and discussion on both the clients’ experience and the therapist’s practice. The aim is to develop your practical knowledge, core FST competencies and your clinical decision-making, with specific clinical presentations. In this unit you will establish a reflecting teams and learn the basic principles of inviting clients to a FST session, forming a balanced alliance, conducting a first and subsequent sessions. You will learn the ethics of FST practices, including the ethics of balancing the clients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality with the benefits of transparency and collaboration. You and your team will generate systemic conceptualisation and formulations to guide your delivery of the treatment process. You will also become familiar with the use of formal and informal treatment feedback and outcome measures. You and your team will meet to review the recording of sessions, reflect on your decision-making, and evaluate the process and quality of outcomes and your emerging FST competencies.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe and reflect on the precision of delivery of a FST reflecting team session, the development of the balanced alliance, the use of specific language and interventive interviewing methods, in the sessions, (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8) 

LO2 - Describe and reflect on the performance of the reflecting-team in the session, and the quality of the contributions, (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8) 

LO3 - Describe their current FST competencies and identify their challenges and learning goals. (GA4, GA5, GA7)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

  • Supervision in real-time or with participants’ recorded session using a reflecting-team process.
  • Reflection and self-reflection: principles & clinical practice
  • Providing generative feedback to clients and colleagues
  • Clinical decision-making
  • Application of feedback & outcome measures
  • Monitoring micro & macro changes
  • Assessment and the recognition of the differences between straightforward and complex client systems

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit, a supervisor-guided reflecting team of no more than 6 members is established. The reflecting team delivers family and systemic therapy to families and also introduces you to live supervised practice. This unit builds on your experiential learning about systemic process, practices and FST competencies in FTY602 and FTHY 603 Practices and Processes of Family and Systemic Therapy 1&2. The unit involves 35 hours of reflecting-team supervised practice, delivered in the intensive mode of 2-3 day workshops, and concurrently with FTHY604 Research Informed Frameworks of Family & Systemic Therapy 1 which provides the research informed systemic constructs and descriptive language to generate systemic formulations. You and your reflecting team are supported and guided by the supervisor in the entire process of conducting Family and Systemic Therapy with your client(s), and in identifying your acquisition and integration FST competencies and your development in using research-informed conceptual frameworks. The reflecting team process includes detailed feedback to you when you are the therapist, together with feedback to your reflecting team. You and your team will review in detail the recorded session, identify generative moments and the challenges you and your team faced with this particular client system. After each client session when you are the therapist, you will write a reflective review of your session identifying the competencies you are developing and the challenges you face. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The three assessment procedures used in this unit are consistent with University assessment requirements, meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes. The first is a hurdle task and two assessments are ungraded tasks.

Task 1, Journal Keeping: Personal-Professional Journal, Hurdle

The Journal is an essential and comprehensive record of your thoughts and experiences which you will use in task 2 & 3. You need to make this journal an emotionally honest and safe personal recording of your reflections, self-reflections, ideas, feelings, emotional responses which emerge in the course of the interaction in the reflecting-team or while viewing a video recording of a family session. This journal builds your capacity for generative and precise reflection and self-reflection as an acquired tertiary skill. By writing and discussing with your lecturers, supervisors and reflecting-team your observations and emotional responses, you develop your capacity to manage your emotional reactions and improve flexibility, manage anxiety and improve your emotional self-regulation, and thus develop you clinical decision-making. The journal keeping task contributes to improving your cognitive-relational functioning, developing your capacity to manage your attentional and memory process, so that you can notice and recall sequences of interaction and place your attention on important relational episodes. This task also builds your confidence in your unique personal knowledge, your capacity to share your expertise and skills in collaborative engagement in systemic process. This task has been found to facilitate development of the complex constellation of cognitive–affective competencies which under-pin development of automaticity of therapeutic responses, and sound clinical decision-making in the heat of the moment.

Task 2. Folio of clinical reviews and evaluation of recorded reflecting team session, Ungraded with Feedback

The task of preparing a folio of clinical reviews and evaluations of each live reflecting team sessions where you are the therapist, specifically focuses you on observing, noticing and evaluating your own clinical work in detail, and recognising the themes of strengths and challenges you have as a family and systemic therapist. Learning to apply appropriate evaluation instruments such as The System for Observing the Therapeutic Alliance (SOFTA) provides research informed support to your evaluations of your clinical work. The rationale here is that this process, including the evaluation instruments, alerts you to the core elements of excellence in the delivery of FST treatments. The clinical review is a 500-1000 word piece which requires you to succinctly summarise your analysis of the sessions from multiple perspectives and coherently report it as reflection and self-reflection.

Task 3 Presentation of learning from readings participation in reflecting team and live, supervision Ungraded with Feedback

This task requires you to draw identify themes in your learning process and succinctly present a summary to your colleagues. This task builds a number of core FST competencies requiring meta-cognitive skills. It is very challenging to observe yourself while in-the-moment attending to the processes unfolding in the session, however it is an essential competency that family and systemic therapists need to develop. This task focuses you on and develops ‘split attention’ to, both being attentive to the process in the session while attending to ‘what am I doing, how well am I doing it’ and ‘what do I do next’? This task provides you with authentic practice of these FST competencies, and shares your observations with colleagues by describing what and how you are learning, enriches your learning at multiple levels. The discipline of summarising the themes of your learning process and producing a coherent and succinct narrative is an analogue for systemic formulation, within the larger training group, which provides you with both additional practice and valuable feedback.

This task allows you to practice core FST competencies and genuinely builds your confidence and generates change in you, and adds to the richness of learning for your colleagues. It can be directly translated to your work with families.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

1.   Personal-professional Journal

Develop a continuation of your Personal-Professional Journal that provides you a multi-layered record of your experiences and inner conversation generated in the collaborative-learning relational system.

Hurdle Task

LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

2.   Folio of clinical reviews and evaluation of recorded reflecting team session (500-1000 words per case)

Analyse and evaluate your live therapy session. Comment on what you noticed and attended to in the session, how you responded to your clients, your use of interventive interviewing methods and what you would do to develop greater precision in the session. Use the System for Observing the Therapeutic Alliance (SOFTA) to evaluate the balanced alliance. 


LO1, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

3.   Power point presentation of learning process

Based on the material collected in your personal-professional journal prepare an oral presentation (and PowerPoint presentation) of what you have learnt about your participation in the reflecting team, and in all other aspects of the intensive workshop and your reading over the semester.

Use the concepts and language of FST to describe what you have noticed about yourself learning FST competencies and how you respond to these experiences. Produce a coherent and succinct narrative about this process that describes your integration of the systemic concepts and the relational language practices of FST. Share your understanding within the larger training group, thus contributing to the process of an ‘exchange of differences in perspective’, which is an analogue of one of the core processes of FST that generates change in families.


LO1, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

Anderson T., (1987), Reflecting Team: Dialogue and Meta-dialogue in clinical work, Family Process, 26, 4: 415-427

Anderson, H. & Gerhart, D. Eds., (2007), Collaborative Therapy: Relationships and Conversations that Make a Difference, NY, Routledge

Gerhart, D., (2014), Mastering Competencies in Family Therapy: A Practical Approach to Theory and Clinical Case Documentation 2nd Ed, Belmont, CA, Brooks/Cole

Gilbert, P., (2005), Compassion: Conceptualisations, Research and uses in Psychotherapy, Routledge, London. 

Holmes, S. & Cantwell, P. (1994), Social construction: A paradigm shifts for systemic therapy and training. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 15(1).

Cantwell, P. & Holmes, S. (2004), 'Cumulative process', Journal of Systemic Therapies, 15, 123-129

Lambert, M.J., (2010), Prevention of Treatment Failure: The use of Measuring, Monitoring and Feedback in Clinical Practice, Washington, APA

Lipchik, E. (2002), Beyond technique in solution focused therapy. Guilford, New York

Minuchin, S., Reiter, M.D., & Borda, C., (2014), The Craft of Family Therapy, Routledge, NY.

Seikkula, J. & Trimble, D., (2005), Healing Elements of Therapeutic Conversation: Dialogue as an Embodiment of Love, Family Process, Vol 44, December, 461–475

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W.M., (2002), Cultivating Communities of Practice, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston

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