Systemic approaches to working with individuals, families and organisations (D4) – intermediate

Course overview

This course will provide you with a well-developed understanding of systemic theory and practice which will underpin your work with diverse families and organisations. It is the most advanced pre-qualifying course in systemic approaches and constitutes the best preparation for the clinical training in the UK. This course is validated by the University of Essex and accredited by the Association of Family Therapy. We offer this course at two levels – foundation and intermediate. 

Systemic family therapy involves working therapeutically with individuals together with their families and/or significant others, and enables the use of individuals’ relationships as a resource. It can sometimes include relational work with individuals, psychoeducational approaches and multiple family groups.

This course provides a strong focus on you as a clinical practitioner. You will gain the capacity to recognise multiple contexts, including professional and political discourses that inform your work. In addition, you will develop your systemic practice skills.

The course consists of the following elements:

  • theoretical seminars
  • application seminars
  • whole-day events
  • personal tutorials
  • clinical work

Theoretical seminars combine theoretical and experiential learning with an emphasis on interactional learning. In smaller application groups, you will be expected to present your own experience using systemic theoretical concepts.

You will undertake presentations on personal and professional issues, illustrating an aspect of systemic theory. These presentations will be done in application groups.

You will attend two full day events which includes presentations and workshops by systemic clinicians.

For successful completion of the intermediate course you will have to have completed the following required clinical work with families:

  • 60 hours of face-to-face clinical work over  the year. This is approximately three sessions a week.
  • 80% of this face-to-face work must be with families and couples
  • 20% of face to face work may be systemic consultation, systemic work with individuals or being part of reflecting team.

It is preferable that students have a variety of work which includes families that are different to their own, and includes liaison with the external professional system. The therapeutic work needs to be ongoing and not only consist of initial assessments or appointments.

You will need to ensure that you receive monthly systemic supervision for your clinical work. The supervisor may not hold clinical responsibility for the case; clinical responsibility rests with the senior clinician responsible for the management of the case in the workplace/placement. Your work can be supervised live or retrospectively.

Over the course of the intermediate year, you will study the following:

Term One

You will look at applying systems as different levels of complexity including workgroups, organisations and communities. You will examine effects of your family of origin and consider the impact of race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, class and physical ability upon yourself and your family of origin, and connect these ideas and beliefs to your professional practice.

Term Two

You will develop an in-depth examination and critical evaluation of the theoretical basis of the systems approaches and their development, together with an exploration of current debates and developments in thinking and practice. You will examine broader applications of systemic theory and are enabled to analyse how other theoretical approaches overlap and differ.

Term Three

You will undertake the ‘Presentation and Analysis of a Systemic Interview’ project in order to demonstrate your systemic practice by presenting an audio or video excerpt of a clinical interview with a family to a panel of tutors and analysing this in detail. You will develop the ability to think about your work contexts and to intervene in complex work situations involving working with other professionals and other agencies.

We have been delivering systemic training at the Tavistock for over 30 years and offer a high level of training delivered in an NHS setting.  Our training is delivered experienced clinicians and supervisors who work in child, adolescent and adult mental health services, and social care settings. 

Students who successfully complete the intermediate course will be eligible to apply to our qualifying MA in Systemic Psychotherapy (M6).

The intermediate course is for you if you already hold an AFT accredited foundation certificate in systemic therapy that has been obtained at the Tavistock and Portman, or another recognised institution. You can also progress to this course if you have successfully completed our Postgraduate Certificate in Child, adolescent and family mental well-being: multidisciplinary practice (D24),  having undertaking the family observation.  

On this course, you will need to see families and couples as the key therapist.

In order to be eligible for this course, you must have completed either:


If you have not completed one of the above, you will need to demonstrate how you meet the learning outcomes of our foundation course. After having submitted an application, please send a document detailing how you meet these to the Department of Education and Training, with your full name and the course code in the subject line. Please ensure that you have addressed each learning outcome individually, and provided evidence.

If invited to interview, you will be asked to bring a portfolio demonstrating your systemic learning and experience.

You must also be either working or volunteering in a setting that allows you to complete 60 hours of face-to-face work with families, where you are permitted to use film or audio to record some of your work.

Interviews for a September 2022 start

We will commence interviewing for this course in March 2022 and we strongly encourage you to apply before then if you can. 


Tuesday evenings from 5.30 to 8.30pm



  • 3000 word Organisational essay
  • 3000 word theory essay
  • 1000 word Viva essay to be uploaded in advance of your presentations two or more weeks later.
  • Viva - This will be a five-minute verbal introduction to your 5 minute Audio or DVD clip of you working with a family systemically, 10 minutes to talk about the interventions within your clip followed by 10 to 15 minutes of questions from two examiners.


£ 3,255 per year


£ 6,510 per year

For more information about how Brexit may affect your fee status, please see Brexit information for EU & EEA and Swiss Nationals

Please note that course fees are subject to a 3% or CPI uplift each year, whichever is greater.

We are happy offer a range of ways to pay your fees, as well as some funding for specific courses. 

Postgraduate Certificate
Course length:
1 year
Tuesday evenings
The Tavistock Centre, London
Admission status:
Course lead:
Rukiya Jemmott

Enquire about this course

Make an enquiry

Next steps

Systemic psychotherapy (M6)

Taught in a highly regarded NHS setting by experienced clinicians, this course was the first of its kind in the UK and successful completion...

Find out more