AFT-accredited foundation level training in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice.
The programme is fully accredited for Foundation Level Training with the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice. It therefore forms the first step in training to become a fully qualified Family Therapist. Graduates of the course can go on to undertake the next stages in this training - that of Intermediate Level and Masters Level. In addition to this, students working in a variety of work contexts will also benefit from supplementing their own professional skills with the systemic theory and skills learned on the course. Given the broad appeal and applicability of systemic therapy principles, this course will inform and enhance students' understanding and approach to supporting individuals, couples and organisations, as well as families.
*Please note: This PgCert programme is the same PgCert Family Therapy and Systemic Practice programme that has run on the Magee campus of the University - it is moving to the Coleraine campus and will run there from September 2018 onwards.
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Coleraine campusWatch the video
About this course
In this section
The course aims to:
- Introduce the participants to the field of systemic theory, practice and research;
- Introduce the participants to the basic skills, applicable to their work settin;
- Increase participants’ awareness and acceptance of the need for professional practice to be characterised by respectfulness and reflexivity;
- Provide a basis from which the student may proceed towards intermediate level training.
At the end of the course, successful students will be able to:
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of the development of systemic theory in the context of other therapies
- Evaluate the various schools of thought pertaining to family therapy
- Identify how stages in the family life cycle can impact on family dynamics
- Reflect on the impact of culture on families
- Define and apply the theories underpinning the Milan/ Post-Milan school of family therapy
- Reflect on their personal and professional stage of development and the impact of systemic theory on these
- Identify ways in which systemic theory/ practice can be used in other settings
The course runs from September to June.
The course is taught as two modules:
Module 1 is conducted as one full day (Thursdays) of teaching and seminar work per week across Semester 1 (September to December).
Module 2 runs in Semester 2 (January to June). It is composed of 6 teaching/workshop days (10.00am – 4.30pm), and 5 Peer Group/seminar days (9.30am – 1.00pm). The teaching days and Peer Group days alternate each week (on Mondays).
In addition to the above days on campus, you will be expected to spend at least one day per week throughout the programme in your placement or work context (pre-arranged by you), where you will apply the theory and skills from your training.
Please note:While unlikely, the above details are subject to change.
- September 2019
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, and student-led peer groups. The peer groups promote experiential learning on the programme via role-play and group tasks, designed to develop students' clinical skills and understanding.
Assessment takes the form of essays, reflective diaries, and presentations. There are no written examinations on the programme.
The staff group responsible for delivering the programme includes staff with professional qualifications in clinical psychology (1), counselling psychology (2), social work (1) and probation work (1). Professor Gerry Cunningham (previous Director of Psychology Services for the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Registered Family Therapist), leads the course, and has extensive experience in running family therapy training over the past 15 years. Jim Wilson (Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist, Independent Trainer, and International Speaker) also teaches on the course.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
Family Therapy and Systemic Practice 1
In this module students will be introduced to family therapy and systemic practice theories and will be able to understand how problems, mental ill health and distress may be explained through the lens of systemic thinking. The main models of structural, strategic and Milan theories, along with their historical development will be explored. The process of systemic psychotherapy will be explained with opportunity to practice a systemic assessment, hypothesising and use the relevant intervention techniques, with example case studies. Issues relating to culture, the therapeutic relationship, power and gender in systemic practice will be discussed, along with case examples of how family therapy and systemic practice can be applied in various clinical settings.
Family Therapy and Systemic Practice 2
In this module students will be introduced to family therapy and systemic practice theories and will be able to understand how problems, mental ill health and distress may be explained through the lens of systemic thinking. The main models of structural, strategic and Milan theories will be reinforced, and key practice-related issues will be explored. The process of systemic psychotherapy will be explained with opportunity to practice systemic skills and use the relevant intervention techniques, with example case studies. Issues relating to bereavement, domestic abuse, and child-focused practice will be discussed, along with case examples of how family therapy and systemic practice can be applied in various clinical settings.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
Applicants must hold a degree or equivalent (either an existing health and social care qualification, or have completed a psychology degree) or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior learning. In order to maximise access to training in systemic practice, entry requirements for foundation level training are kept to a minimum. They are:
- a relevant professional training, or equivalent
- an opportunity to apply systemic ideas to a current work setting, either voluntary or paid – students must arrange this for themselves
Applicants are required to provide two satisfactory references, outlining their suitability to undertake the course.
All applicants, regardless of qualifications, are advised to use the space provided in the personal statement/additional information section of the online application process, to detail any experience that may be relevant to studying a PgCert in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Exemptions and transferability
Applicants may be exempt from certain elements of the course if they have already undertaken some professional training in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice. Any application for the accreditation of prior learning can be discussed with the course team.
Careers & opportunities
In this section
This course is fully accredited for Foundation Level Training with the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice. It therefore forms the first step in training to become a fully qualified Family Therapist. Graduates of the course can go on to undertake the next stages in this training - that of Intermediate Level and Masters Level. In addition to this, students working in a variety of work contexts will also benefit from supplementing their own professional skills with the systemic theory and skills learned on the course. Given the broad appeal and applicability of systemic therapy principles, this course will inform and enhance students' understanding and approach to supporting individuals, couples and organisations, as well as families.
Work placement / study abroad
The clinical placement associated with this programme is arranged by students themselves. The training presents a number of opportunities to connect clinical placement with studies on campus, through exploring and assessing students' clinical experiences in this area of practice.
ApplyHow to apply Request a prospectus
Applications to our postgraduate courses are made through the University’s online application system.
The closing date for applications is the 31 July.
Please note that, when you apply for the course, you will be contacted by Admissions Services regarding the supporting documentation that you need to provide.
- September 2019
Fees and funding
In this section
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
- Northern Ireland & EU:
Additional mandatory costs
Travel Expenses associated with placement – placements are arranged by students themselves on this MSc route (as opposed to being arranged by the course team), and so travel costs will depend on where their placement setting is located.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
- The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
- Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
- If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
- The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
- The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.
From graduates of Foundation Level training:
“I think one of the things that I found most helpful about this course is the fact that it is conveyed in such a way that it can be applied in real situations. It’s one thing learning family systems theories, but it is another thing altogether when it’s applied. Hearing stories, told with a sense of humanity (and humour) made it easier to make up my mind about where I might apply it.”
“I think family therapy and systemic practice continues to influence my assessment, formulation and intervention in clinical practice. I think this training enabled me to be more flexible in sessions, more aware of the power dynamic of therapy and to more fully appreciate the family as experts of their own experience.”
“I think that the reflective elements of the course really allowed me to grow and develop personally and as a therapist. I also feel that I particularly benefitted from the videos we watched of Family Therapy in practice and from the role-play scenarios… The Foundation Course has given me great confidence in this way of working.”